According to an analysis published in the Asia Pacific Journal of Public Health, indoor spaces with proper ventilation and less closed air-conditioned spaces are the reasons why developing Asian countries like India reported low death rates due to coronavirus.

According to researchers from Delhi and Mangalore, the virus remains airborne in spaces that are closed and confined, leading to its multiplication. This further increases the viral load.

Dr Shyam Aggarwal, the first author of the study and chairman of the oncology department at Sir Ganga Ram Hospital, partnered with Max Smart Superspeciality Hospital in Delhi and Kasturba Medical College in Mangalore, to analyse the environment where the virus can breed.

Aggarwal is cited as saying in a report in Hindustan Times: “People in developing countries tend to spend less time in air-conditioned enclosed places, where the viral load is higher due to lack of ventilation. This could be the reason for fewer deaths reported from several Asian countries. In fact, the initial surge in cases was reported from European countries, where people might have stayed indoors longer in the winter months of January and February.”

“In India, overcrowded homes are leading to the spread. Even though not many people spend time in air-conditioned offices in India, the problem here is that of several people living in close proximity in small houses leading to transmission within families,” he added.

The doctor also noted that there is a need to increase the number of air exchange in such enclosed air-conditioned spaces.

Aggarwal believes that in order to contain the viral load the number of air exchanges in enclosed air-conditioned spaces needs to be increased.

“In some places, there were just five air exchanges each hour once summer started as it puts more strain on the system and leads to more electricity consumption. This has to be about 12 to 15 exchanges an hour,” he recommended.