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5 Science-Backed Tips For Safe Face-to-Face Meetings in COVID Time

5 Science-Backed Tips For Safe Face-to-Face Meetings in COVID Time

It’s not about just physical distancing and face cover.

Image credit Loren Javier on Flickr.

Originally published on Medium. Read here for better reading experience.


Three months back a friend of mine, a dentist called me to ask how he can start his clinic again. Since the beginning of the lock-down, it was closed. He was scared to start it as still there were a large number of COVID cases observed near him. He called me as I’m running a COVID awareness campaign since the start of the pandemic and I’m also involved in handling programs for safety guidelines at this time.

He recently called to tell that in the last three months, he has attended several patients who later tested positive for COVID. Some of those met him, during their peak infectious phase. Still, he never got infected.

With lockdowns rules almost gone while the second wave of COVID coming up, these tips can be useful for safely interacting face to face interactions in unavoidable circumstances. These could be personal meetings, corporate meetings, tuition classes, or if someone just lands on your door be it a relative, friend or co-worker.

Keep in mind, these are additional safety tips for various types of interactions, and three basic rules of the mask, distancing and hand hygiene are the first priority.


1. Open your windows

Photo by Benjamin Ranger on Unsplash

It’s very clear that the droplets carrying coronavirus are diluted many folds in a well-ventilated environment. So have your meeting in rooms full of open windows. You may think air conditioners will work but the power of windows is way more than that of AC.

As Markham Heid mentioned in his article, The Germ-Cleaning Power of an Open Window,

“Like diluting a glass of poison with clean water, fresh air seems to reduce the concentration of airborne infectious particles in an indoor environment.”

The World health organization had recommended natural ventilation to reduce the spread of airborne infections diseases for more than a decade. Natural ventilation is proved to be effective against other infectious disease tuberculosis. In the same line, CDC also recommends maintaining good ventilation in the room.

Please open your windows and doors and let the breeze brush through you.
Photo by Geo Days on Unsplash

To my dentist friend, I suggested keeping a table fan near the window pointed towards his dental chair. This fan will directly force exhaled air to go away and not reach from patient to doctor or vice versa. He also kept the window of the other side open to let air pass out directly.

You can also do so by keeping a table fan at the right angle to your sitting system. This will also increase ventilation in the room.

You may have to face some dust and all, but seriously, its nothing as compared to getting infected with the coronavirus.

Exception:

The exception for this could be if your window is located just next to high traffic walkway. Especially if your meeting room is in the basement with a low-level window. There is a slight chance of virus coming in if an infected person coughs/sneeze next to your window. But by using a table fan you can regulate airflow direction outward from such a window so that no droplets can come through it.

Opening windows of home, offices and schools will also reduce the chances of transmission of the virus in premise if by chance someone is infected there.

2. Walk and talk

Meetings while walking outdoor can reduce the chance of infection. Photo by Gustavo Fring from Pexels

Long back an Indian telecom company Idea gave this slogan which I loved. You will not just talk, but do some good physical activity as well.

This idea suits even better during this pandemic. As stated before, the droplets carrying the virus gets extremely diluted outside. The point is also stated by many epidemiologists and aerosol dynamics experts. In an article in the New York Times, Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech stated the virus particles get extremely diluted outside. In the same article Shan Soe-Lin, a lecturer at the Yale Jackson Institute for Global Affairs stated he believe the risk is higher if two people are standing and talking.

So, if next time one or a few people come to your home or office to discuss something, take them for a walk and talk, but with the face mask on.

Walk and talk should be a new mode of meetings during this COVID pandemic.

Exception:

There is an exception for walk and talk also. This is not recommended if many COVID cases are observed in your proximity. Also, don’t cross areas of high COVID incidents when you go for walk and talk.

3. Organize large meetings and gatherings outdoor

Photo by Shardayyy Photography on Unsplash

Remember those days when most of the events used to be organized under a temporary tent. We never thought those old days will come back. But they do.

If you are to organize a larger gathering, which I highly recommend not to, experts suggest having those outdoor while also maintaining physical distancing.

4. Use terrace, garden, or balcony

Photo by Sonnie Hiles on Unsplash

Some students have started attending tuition classes. People are visiting doctors. Attending clients. Let’s go natural and do all these on the terrace, balcony, or the best option, in the garden if you have in your home.

The additional advantage is sunlight. It helps us make vitamin D. Most of us irrespective of which country you are, are likely vitamin D deficient. Reports say vitamin D deficiency makes COVID infection more serious. So applying this method will gill double advantage.

This tip I recommended to my cousin who teaches kids at home. Now she is taking classes on the terrace for about a month. If it rains, then she goes for tip 1. One of the students recently found COVID positive. But nobody else got infected from him.

5. No eating or drinking

I believe you will agree we can not drink or eat with a proper mask on. With all due respect, please don’t use those masks that let you open your mouth and eat. A friend of mine got infected with COVID when he visited someone just for a cup of tea.

CDC also suggests eating in large groups or at public places is highly risky. Even if you are eating out, which I’ll recommend not to do, it’s better to go to rooftop restaurants or restaurants with sitting space outdoor. Else, the takeaway is a better option. Please make sure every staff in the restaurant does maintain hygiene and wears a face mask including while cooking.


Final words

Image by Peggy und Marco Lachmann-Anke from Pixabay

Last but not the least, as suggested above, these tips are applicable if you must do face to face meetings. The application of these tips will significantly increase your chances of not catching or spreading the virus.

I’ll still recommend going to online meetings as much as possible.


A couple of points of this article were added and modified after reading this article on Barco.com.

 

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