Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in the context of COVID-19: first update


European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control. Heating, ventilation and air-conditioning systems in the context of COVID-19. 10 November 2020. Stockholm: ECDC; 2020.

This document aims to provide guidance for public health authorities in EU/EEA countries and the UK on the ventilation of indoor spaces in the context of COVID-19.

Executive summary

Key messages

  • It is now well-established that COVID-19 transmission commonly occurs in closed spaces;
  • If well-maintained and adapted for use in the COVID-19 pandemic, heating, ventilation and air-conditioning (HVAC) systems may have a complementary role in decreasing potential airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2;
  • Four bundles of non-pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs) should be considered to reduce potential airborne transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in closed spaces: the control of COVID-19 sources in closed spaces; engineering controls in mechanically ventilated (by HVAC systems) and naturally ventilated closed spaces; administrative controls; and personal protective behaviour.

Changes to the current update

The first update of the ECDC ventilation guidance document contains:

  • key new findings that emphasise four bundles of NPIs to reduce the risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission in closed spaces;
  • updated references on the evidence of transmission in closed spaces;
  • recommendations based on the new evidence and on national and international guidance; and
  • an overview of national guidance ventilation documents in the context of COVID-19 based on an inquiry sent to ECDC’s National Focal Points (NFPs) for Preparedness and Response and NFPs for Influenza and other respiratory diseases.