As summers approach and the coronavirus pandemic worsens, ThePrint looks at whether it’s safe to turn on home air conditioners.
As Indians get locked inside their homes for the next three weeks with summers driving up temperatures, an unlikely question has come up amid the pandemic — do air conditioners increase the risk of bringing coronavirus inside homes?
According to experts, home AC units do not pose any additional risk of Covid-19 infection, especially at a time when people are isolated inside their homes with no outside contact.
However, coronavirus can spread within spaces that are centrally air conditioned — such as shopping malls and some modern apartments, especially if an infected person is inside such spaces.
“This virus is not airborne in the same way as viruses that cause common cold and flu. It is just that if a person sneezes, a thick spray gets created — that is when a virus is in the air. But it does not float around in the air — it settles on surfaces and can stay there for a very long time,” explained Sambuddha Chaudhuri, an epidemiologist at the Indian Institute of Technology, Bombay.
“Since it does not stay suspended in the air for a very long time, air conditioners should not be a threat especially if it is in your own house where no one is infected,” he told ThePrint.
“Having said that, in places like centrally air-conditioned shopping centres etc, where there are usually a lot of people, the virus can get recycled in the air for a short span of time,” he warned.
In the wake of the pandemic, the Narendra Modi government has ordered people to stay away from crowded spaces as they can come in contact with someone infected.
If people visit a centrally air conditioned mall during a pandemic, the risk of getting exposed to the coronavirus directly from an infected person is far greater than getting it from the recycled AC air, Chaudhuri said.