May 24, 2020

Does Air Conditioning Spread the Coronavirus?

The short answer from an infectious disease specialist

air conditioning

Q: Does being in an air conditioned place increase your risk of getting the 2019 novel coronavirus?

A: I don’t think we can say for sure yet, but we don’t think this is a primary way the virus is spread.

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There was one case report that came out of China which suggested that a restaurant’s air conditioning system contributed to 10 customers getting sick with the 2019 novel coronavirus. But there were also many other customers in the restaurant who did not get sick, and a lot of other variables to consider.

While there is no clear evidence at this time, fans and air conditioners do move air around in a room, so they theoretically pose a risk of spreading viral particles and droplets. More research is needed to understand the impact, if any, of air conditioning on the spread of COVID-19 in public places.

What we are more confident about is that the primary way the virus is spread is through close contact with someone who is sick. So keeping a physical distance from others, covering your coughs and sneezes, washing your hands frequently and wearing a cloth face cover in public areas are critical.

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Infectious disease specialist Kristin Englund, MD

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