COVID19: It’s safe to switch on the A/C

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People should not avoid using their air conditioning systems at home in fear of contracting coronavirus, say doctors after a number of elderly people were taken to hospital suffering from heatstroke.

The head of Nicosia General Hospital A&E Andreas Eliades said that in the past week, the hospital had received five cases of early stages of heatstroke.

He told Cyprus News Agency that the cases involved elderly men and women who opted not to use their air conditioning systems during record high temperatures for May.

Reportedly, earlier this week the A&E department at Paphos Hospital was also busy as elderly and vulnerable people sought medical care due to extremely high temperatures.

The cases were mostly elderly who were dehydrated, frail and had a slight temperature, with most of them saying that they were afraid to turn on the air conditioning because of coronavirus.

One of the doctors on the team advising the government on handling the coronavirus crisis told CNA that after some elderly people suffered heatstroke symptoms for fear of turning their A/C, scientists needed to step in.

Maria Koliou, assistant professor of infectious diseases, reassured the public saying that they should not fear using their cooling systems.

She said that usually people’s homes are frequented mainly by people who live there anyway.

“The risk of the coronavirus spreading via air conditioners exists in areas where there is a concentration of a large number of people, or in places various people come and go.

In these cases, authorities have issued specific instructions on how to operate the A/C,” said Koliou.

She noted that in such cases, routine cleaning of the A/C unit is not enough.

“Ideally A/Cs in these cases should be upgraded so that they are able to renew the air and ventilate the area. If this is not possible, then the doors and windows should be left open so as to renew the air.”