Thursday, 11 February 2021

Questions (325)

Róisín Shortall

Question:

325. Deputy Róisín Shortall asked the Minister for Health the current advice of his Department on the role of ventilation in reducing the spread of Covid-19 in domestic settings, school settings and workplace settings; and if he will make a statement on the matter. [7834/21]

View answer

Written answers (Question to Health)

The NPHET keeps all issues in relation to COVID-19 under review, including modes of transmission and the role that ventilation can play in mitigating transmission. These matters were discussed most recently at its meeting of 21st January.

COVID-19 is a new disease, and the effect of ventilation on the transmissibility of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is still unclear, however there is evidence that COVID-19 outbreaks are more commonly associated with crowded indoor spaces, and that poor ventilation may increase the risk of transmission in such settings.

There is already a range of advice and guidance in place in relation to ventilation. The Health Protection Surveillance Centre has published Guidance on Non-Healthcare Building Ventilation during COVID-19 which provides an analysis of the current literature examining the association between ventilation and COVID-19. The Guidance provides recommendations, based on the literature, for commercial and public buildings, including with regard to mechanical ventilation. It also includes school specific guidance which recommends the use of indoor air quality meters which monitor the level of CO2 in classrooms that rely on natural ventilation. This guidance can be found at the following link: https://www.hpsc.ie/a-z/respiratory/coronavirus/novelcoronavirus/guidance/educationguidance/Guidance%20on%20non%20HCbuilding%20ventilation%20during%20COVID-19.pdf

The HPSC has updated this guidance based on a recent HIQA rapid review of current public health guidance for community settings for COVID-19 and recent updates in similar international guidance. The guidance will be reviewed again, as required, following the findings of a new multisectoral group on ventilation which has been established by Professor Mark Ferguson at the request of the NPHET. The Group is chaired by Professor John Wegner and held its first meeting on 2 February 2021.

Additional guidance on ventilation in commercial spaces is available in the Work Safely Protocol (https://enterprise.gov.ie/en/Publications/Publication-files/Work-Safely-Protocol.pdf) and in NSAI guidance for the retail sector and shopping centres:

https://www.nsai.ie/images/uploads/general/NSAI-COVID19-Retail-Guidelines-13012021.pdf

https://www.nsai.ie/images/uploads/general/NSAI-COVID19-Shopping-Centre-Guidelines-13012021.pdf

There is also additional guidance on Gov.ie and on the HSE website which outlines the importance of ventilation in households. This can be found here:

https://www.gov.ie/en/publication/472f64-covid-19-coronavirus-guidance-and-advice/

https://www2.hse.ie/conditions/coronavirus/how-coronavirus-is-spread.html