Plexiglass will be ‘counterproductive’ to correct COVID-19 air flow, consultants say

Some health consultants are urging institutions and establishments to re-think the usage of plexiglass as a measure in opposition to COVID-19, arguing the obstacles may even be “counterproductive” when they impede the air flow wanted to keep away from spreading the extra transmissible delta variant.

Since the beginning of the pandemic, plastic obstacles have grow to be a standard sight in locations like shops and schools.

But simply because the coronavirus has developed since then, consultants say our understanding of the efficacy of these obstacles additionally has to evolve — particularly as colder climate and relaxed pandemic guidelines means extra people are indoors.

Dr. Peter Juni, an epidemiologist at St. Michael’s hospital in Toronto and a member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, desires people to “throw out the plexiglass” in most conditions.

“The challenge with plexiglass walls, if they’re not being implemented very selectively, is that they actually can impede ventilation if the air can’t circulate well,” Juni advised CBC News. 

Dr. Peter Juni, an epidemiologist at St. Michael’s hospital in Toronto and a member of the Ontario COVID-19 Science Advisory Table, desires people to ‘throw out the plexiglass’ in most conditions. (Zoom)

“If you start to fragment the room unnecessarily with plexiglass walls, it’s actually counterproductive because the air can’t circulate properly,” he mentioned.

“And there’s even some observational evidence suggesting that this actually could make things worse rather than better.”

Dr. Raj Bhardwaj, a doctor and scientific affiliate professor on the University of Calgary, beforehand advised CBC Radio’s Information Morning Moncton that the delta variant has “evolved to be more efficiently transmissible through the air,” making air flow important when it involves curbing threat.

WATCH | Experts are re-thinking the usage of plexiglass to stop unfold of COVID-19:

Rethinking the usage of plexiglass to stop spreading COVID-19

Experts say plexiglass obstacles might not be the simplest method to stop the unfold of COVID-19 unfold and will impede air flow in sure settings. 2:01

“Those plastic barriers … might disrupt the normal ventilation of a room, they might create dead zones where the air becomes stagnant and those airborne viral particles can build up over time,” he mentioned.

“They might help to avoid a direct hit from someone speaking moistly at you or sneezing on you if they’re not wearing a mask … but if you’re also not in a well-ventilated space, those plexiglass barriers might just funnel the aerosols into another part of the room.”

‘Important in sure conditions’

B.C. Provincial Health Officer Dr. Bonnie Henry, nonetheless, says obstacles do make a distinction for individuals who work together intently with the general public at excessive volumes.

“Barriers are important in certain situations, and I think about fast food restaurants and coffee shops when that barrier does protect you from the person on the other side of it,” she mentioned in a information convention on Tuesday.

“In and of themselves they’re not everything but absolutely they make a difference.”

Jeff Siegel, a civil and mineral engineering professor on the University of Toronto who research indoor air high quality, welcomed Juni’s suggestion to do away with plexiglass on account of airflow issues, but additionally agrees with Henry that they are often useful in sure workplaces.

Jeff Siegel, a civil and mineral engineering professor on the University of Toronto who research indoor air high quality, says barrier prohibit airflow however can generally facilitate distancing. (CBC)

“There are times when you want to keep people apart, and sometimes a physical barrier is the easiest way to do that,” he mentioned to CBC News, noting obstacles make extra sense in a tighter area like a grocery checkout than in an office setting.

“If you’re going to do a barrier, do it well,” Siegel mentioned.

“[It] should be big enough … to really stop a lot of the droplets from getting through.”

Multi-layered method

Experts say the perfect defence in opposition to COVID-19 indoors is a multi-layered method that consists of good air flow.

“What you want is basically just good ventilation, reasonable cleaning … enough stuff to disinfect your hands and good masks,” mentioned Juni.

“That’s certainly much more important [than plexiglass].”

Students are seen by means of particular person plexiglass shields at a Montreal college in August 2020. (Paul Chiasson/The Canadian Press)

Businesses that have invested 1000’s of {dollars} on obstacles might really feel pissed off by calls to ditch them, which Siegel says is “a very reasonable response” on account of earlier COVID-19 messaging.

“I understand why people are upset, but the reality is the evidence does change,” he mentioned.

“Even though we had very good reason to think that plexiglass might’ve made a difference then, we now know that there’s more challenges.”

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