The rapid spread of the coronavirus outbreak has overwhelmed public health services and systems globally, triggering an urgent need to build temporary structures or convert very large existing buildings into emergency hospitals to treat hundreds of Covid-19 patients. It is important to take all possible precautions to limit airborne cross-infection of patients and medical staff within these huge open spaces. As we breathe, cough or sneeze, a mass of tiny droplets disperse in the surrounding air. This short film reports on joint research between the University's Department of Architecture and the BP Institute for Multiphase Fluid Flow with the University's Interdisciplinary Research Centre for Infectious Diseases. It demonstrates how far micro-droplets exhaled by virus carriers can travel and how air flows assist their dispersal. In a hospital setting this knowledge is vital to limiting the spread of infection – how does ventilation, natural or mechanical, and movement of people and equipment drive droplets along corridors and through wards? As huge sheds are hastily converted into emergency hospitals for Covid-19 patients around the globe in almost every conceivable climate, this explanatory film explains how straightforward it is to protect patients and healthcare staff from airborne infection.
Professor Alan Short
President-Elect and Professorial Fellow