Avoid using hotel elevators, warns medical study

99 percent of infectious particles can linger in a poorly-ventilated elevator


While many hotel guests favour a top-floor room and the expansive views that come with it, a recent medical study out of America has urged people to avoid using elevators where possible and stick to the lower floors.

Researchers at the University of Minnesota College of Science and Engineering looked at how coronavirus spreads in enclosed spaces such as elevators. The infection rate varies depending on ventilation, where an infected person stands and whether he or she speaks, with the study outlining a number of best and worst-case scenarios.

Forbes noted in the best-case scenario (an infected person breathes in a well-ventilated elevator) 78 percent of emitted particles remain suspended in the air. In the worst case scenario (an infected person speaks in a poorly ventilated elevator) 99 percent of emitted particles remain suspended in the air. The researchers found that even in a well-ventilated elevator, just under 15 percent of emitted particles are vented out of the space; in a poorly ventilated elevator, that percentage dropped down to zero percent.

As scientists start to gain a better understanding of the virus, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has shone a light on the potential risk of using busy elevators.

In June, the CDC updated its travel guidelines for overnight stays to include: “Consider taking the stairs. Otherwise wait to use the elevator until you can either ride alone or only with people from your household.”

Using the elevator over the stairs is very common in hotels, where many buildings soar high into the sky and guests or staff don't want to carry heavy luggage up flights of stairs.

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