Indoor Air Cartoon Journal, January 2020, Volume 3, #95
Being in the vicinity of someone with a virus increases the vulnerability of being infected with the virus. Experts believe a single cough or sneeze could spread half a million virus particles (aerosols). These particles can find their way into the human body through inhalation and dermal uptake. Coughing and sneezing onto someone can also get the virus into the human body.
The co-existence of hazard (virus) and vulnerability due to proximity to the source of the hazard or where the hazard exists will increase the risk of getting sick or die when the virus gets into the human body. The severity of the virus, in this case, the Wuhan virus, in acutely causing harm will also increase the risk.
Preventing inhalation of the virus through the use of masks will reduce the vulnerability. Regularly cleaning of hands or not touching contaminated surfaces will reduce the vulnerability. Prevention of direct transmission of the virus that may happen when an infected person sneezes directly on a non-infected person will also reduce the vulnerability. Engineering solutions could also be adopted to reduce vulnerability. A higher ventilation rate can reduce the resident time of the virus in indoor air through the dilution effect.
Recirculating indoor air when an infected person or several virus particles are present in the indoor environment would increase the vulnerability. Imagine a person with the Wuhan virus, using no mask, coughing, or sneezing in a train, bus, or any indoor environment with a recirculated air system. The indoor environment will be a perfect incubator for increasing the number of Wuhan virus patients.
The use of high-efficiency filters or air cleaning methods to remove the virus from indoor air could also reduce vulnerability. The physiological condition of the exposed person would also influence the level of vulnerability. A healthy person or someone with stronger immunity will be less vulnerable than a non-healthy person or someone with weak immunity.
A poor or lack of appropriate medical facilities, medical personnel, or medical response will also increase vulnerability. What can an individual do to improve their self-protection? What can policymakers, medical practitioners, or built environment professionals do to mitigate the presence or spread of the hazard or reduce the vulnerability of people occupying the indoor environment?
Do you want to know more about this topic? Read Curley and Thomas (2004), Furuya (2007) papers and a book written by Sherman (2007).