Technical guidelines 28 April 2020

HVAC system strategies to airborne infectious outbreaks | Health Technical Advice

The purpose of this Health Technical Advice (HTA-2020-001) is to provide guidance to hospital engineers on actions that could be taken in the event of airborne infectious outbreaks with regards to heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems installed within a healthcare facility.

As evidence emerges relating to the COVID-19 pandemic, this HTA has been updated to assist hospital engineers, health service leaders and infection control specialists to ensure that appropriate systems are in place to support and promote prevention and control infections and minimise and manage risks to patients, the workforce and the health system.

This HTA is not to take the place of any health agency specific infectious diseases or pandemic mode plans or any facility specific emergency response plans associated with acute infectious disease outbreak. Instead this HTA should inform hospital engineering teams on how to implement interventions aimed at mitigation of risk from airborne infectious disease and understand the uncertainty of the effectiveness of current practice recommendations.

Final recommendations and proposed solutions should be discussed and agreed as part of a collaborative multidisciplinary team of engineers, building operators, scientists, infection prevention specialists, epidemiologists and and occupational hygienists.

Revision B was issued in November 2020.

This Health Technical Advice includes:

  • Preface
  • The issue
  • Airborne transmission
    • Particle size
  • Approaches for health care facilities
    • Airborne precautions for aerosol-generating procedures
    • Ventilation and air-cleaning strategies
  • Minimum healthcare HVAC system criteria
  • Strategies
    • Dilution
    • Temperature and humidity
    • Facilities maintenance
  • Summary
    • Airborne precautions for aerosol-generating procedures
  • References and bibliography
  • Attachment 1 - HVAC system checklist

Please note: This document has been prepared as a guide and for information purposes only. No legal obligation for any loss, damage or expense is incurred by any person relying on the information provided.

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Last updated: 18 January 2022