Rutte’s 15-minute ventilation advice was insufficient, experts say
The advice Prime Minister Mark Rutte gave during a press conference mid-July to refresh the air at home for 15 minutes every day was insufficient, university professors told the Trouw. They said they want the advice reevaluated by a team of experts.
Proper ventilation was added to the list of basic measures against the coronavirus in mid-July which already included washing hands, maintaining social distance and getting tested when showing symptoms of the virus, but that is not enough experts stated.
Philomena Bluyssen from the Delft University of Technology (TU Delft) called the 15-minute ventilation “a joke”. “Airing the room out for 15 minutes is not enough. Imagine someone smokes multiple cigarettes inside, the smoke will not disappear in 15 minutes.”
Bluyssen advocated setting up a ‘ventilation task force’. This team of experts could advise the government, alongside the Outbreak Management Team (OMT), on which measures against the coronavirus need to be taken indoors. Such a task force already exists in Belgium. Bluyssen was curious about which information Rutte based his advice on. “I can’t find it in any literature.”
Opening windows for 15 minutes every hour would be best, Bert Blocken from the Eindhoven University of Technology said.
Earlier this week, the government came under fire for considerably reducing ventilation requirements in the hospitality sector. Instead of refreshing the air every ten minutes, catering establishments only had to do so once an hour. Insufficient to prevent the spread of diseases experts said.
“If you have a mechanical ventilation system keep it on”, Bluyssen advised. “Only turn on the air conditioning when there are guests because air conditioners cool and reuse the air that is already in the room.”
The experts were, nonetheless, glad that ventilation was added to the basic measures against the coronavirus. “It is important that the Cabinet raises awareness about ventilation by including it in the basic measures. Until now it has been given too little attention”, virologist, Louis Kroes said.
A spokesperson from the Ministry of Health said the advice was “a practical decision based on the guidance from the RIVM.”The Ministry of Health said more research needs to be done to determine how much ventilation is necessary to prevent the spread of the coronavirus. “Therefore, it is important to stick to the general advice”, the spokesperson said.