Confined and conditioned environment of public offices and facilities can become the biggest super-spreaders of the virus
The uncertain nature of the Coronavirus pandemic has flummoxed governments across the world as they are faced with the unenviable task of opening up their gasping economies and keeping infections and deaths under check at the same time. Just how unpredictable this maverick virus is can be gauged from the fact that a study of cases in Taiwan, published in The Journal of American Medical Association, found household transmission to be the main source of infection, while The Lancet study of the US found that healthcare transmission was more than household transmission. So where does this leave us where our lockdown strategy is concerned? Well, if findings of 14 studies on the virus’ transmission patterns across China, Iran, South Korea, Singapore, Iceland, France, Taiwan, Japan and the US are anything to go by, public enclosed spaces, too, can become a super-spreading environment. While some studies found that household contacts account for 10-20 per cent of the transmission, five to 10 per cent were traced to transportation, dining and entertainment. At the same time, the studies found that schools are not prominent transmission centres and children are unlikely to be the source of any household infection, unlike the bird flu where 54 per cent of transmission clusters identified kids as the source of infection. In the end, it all boils down to the fact that the Coronavirus is largely transmitted by close contact in densely populated spaces over a prolonged period. This basically means that enclosed public and mass living spaces make for a high-risk environment. This more than ever highlights the importance of social distancing and operating in ventilated open spaces.
So, maybe as we go ahead and start living our lives again along with the ever-present threat of the COVID-19, these two factors will be the guiding principles of our strategies and future architecture. They will forever change the way we watch movies, dine out, travel, shop, socialise, work in our offices and factories and so on. Some sectors like entertainment and dining out will suffer, travel will, too, as fewer seats on airplanes and trains will make the costs of tickets prohibitive. Maybe we will have to rethink our public transport-related strategies. The automobile sector will boom as will e-commerce, real estate might suffer as more firms encourage the work from home model while services will become more expensive. One thing is for sure, we can’t hunker down forever as the tiny virus destroys economies, jobs and lives across the world. We just have to cope with preventive and adaptive strategies.
(Courtesy: The Pioneer)