Desktop “air curtains” may deflect virus particles

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When people cannot maintain a safe distance to avoid the spread of COVID-19, a newly designed desktop “air curtain” can block aerosols in exhaled air, researchers found.

Air-curtains – artificially created streams of moving air – are often used to protect patients in operating rooms. At Nagoya University in Japan, researchers tested their new desktop device by simulating a blood collection booth in which a lab technician is close to the patient.

Aerosol particles blown toward the curtain “were observed to bend abruptly toward (a) suction port” without passing through the air curtain, they reported on this week in AIP Advances. Even putting an arm through the air curtain did not break the flow or reduce its effectiveness, they said. A high-efficiency particulate air (HEPA) filter can be installed inside the suction port, they added.

If further testing in real-life conditions confirms the effectiveness of the system, it could “be useful as an indirect barrier not only in the medical field but also in situations where sufficient physical distance cannot be maintained, such as at the reception counter,” the researchers said.

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