A doctor specialising in the use of UV-C filtration systems, which are used in China and Singapore, has warned that current UK hotel ventilation systems could spread Covid-19 between hotel rooms.
Quarantine hotels came into force last month and are being used to hold those returning from the 33 red-listed countries to curb the spread of new Covid-19 strains.
Dr Rhys Thomas warned: “The standard design of hotel ventilation systems could actually accelerate the spread of the virus around the building, should an infected person be present.
“While the concept that new arrivals from high-risk areas should be quarantined is sound, the problem with them being in hotels is that many of such premises have common heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that recirculate or share air between rooms.”
Thomas is the chief medical and scientific officer at PP-L Health Technology Solutions and has previously worked as a consultant anaesthetist for the British Army and the NHS and in the field of nuclear, biological and chemical warfare.
He added: “Introducing a stronger focus on technologies such as UV-C, which has been demonstrated in multiple studies to be a highly effective measure to significantly reduce respiratory transmission, will ensure that we can live with the virus into the future.”
Whilst vaccination is a crucial step in overcoming the virus, Thomas says that our approach is not multifaceted enough.
He said: “The problems we seem to be having at the minute are that we are trying to address one problem, which is finding a vaccine.
“You don’t take an enemy down with just one thing, you have to take a virus down from multiple different angles.”
“92% of the disease is transmitted by the airborne and aerosol route, so we have to protect ourselves more from this airborne route and UV-C does that, it sterilises the air.”
Thomas got involved in the UK ventilator challenge, and saw a patient with the early stages of Covid-19.
He said: “I was lucky enough to see a patient who had early presentations of Covid-19, which is quite unusual because they don’t normally come into hospital as they feel well.
“But they are very sick, their oxygen levels are about the same as you or I would be if we were on the top of Everest.”
Thomas realised that the key problem in battling Covid-19 was not ventilation, but oxygenation, and so he and engineer Maurice Clarke invented and built a variation of CPAP machine that was designed to work as a biological countermeasure.
He explained: “Coronaviruses don’t lend themselves, naturally, to a good vaccine and so it’s going to be a game of whack-a-mole, effectively, but Covid is always going to have the advantage.”
This device limited the amount of virus spread around the room, used so little oxygen it could be used at home if needed and was granted approval back in April 2020.
Thomas argues that UV-C germicidal filtration systems should be installed into the hotel’s HVAC systems to combat the spread of the airborne virus.
You can also check out SWL’s look into a New Zealand quarantine hotel here.