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Airflow and Ventilation Analysis for Existing and New Buildings and Hospitals to Minimise Transmission of COVID-19 and Emerging Pathogens

Name and Constituency of Member of Parliament
Dr Tan Wu Meng
MP for Jurong GRC

Qns 83

To ask the Minister for Health (a) what capabilities do agencies have to analyse airflow, ventilation and movement of droplet or airborne particles in existing buildings and proposed new built environment designs; (b) whether this is considered in designing new healthcare facilities; and (c) whether the Ministry will review existing healthcare facilities’ airflow in the different hospital wards and facility settings as part of minimising transmission of COVID-19 and emerging pathogens.

Written Answer

The expertise and study of airflow, ventilation and movement of droplet or airborne particles in existing buildings resides across several agencies including the National Environment Agency (NEA).

The Building and Construction Authority (BCA) has the domain knowledge on Air Conditioning and Mechanical Ventilation (ACMV) systems to complement the analysis. In new healthcare facilities, airflow simulation is carried out during the design stage. This helps to ascertain the building orientation and design of façade openings needed, including optimising natural ventilation.

Compared to usual commercial, office or residential buildings, the ACMV design requirements in a hospital are more stringent in order to mitigate diseases transmission risks. The ACMV provisions depend on the planned uses of the spaces. Spaces that require special air pressure regimes and control such as isolation rooms and operating theatres, are tested on airflow direction and airflow rates as part of the building acceptance tests.

Regular air pressure readings and tests are also carried out to ensure that these spaces operate as per their design and meet the required performance standards. MOH will continue to work with the public hospitals and other healthcare facilities to review and implement measures to enhance the ventilation of existing facilities and the design of future facilities.

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