Confidential RIVM report confirms danger of spreading coronavirus via ventilation: ‘This is the missing puzzle piece’


One cause of a massive corona outbreak in a nursing home in Maassluis, in which six residents died, is incorrect ventilation. This is evident from a RIVM report, in the hands of EenVandaag. Parts of the virus have been discovered in the ventilation system.

Although there was a strict visiting policy, the staff wore surgical masks and a modern ventilation system was used, the De Tweemaster nursing home in Maassluis was hit hard by a corona outbreak. In one department, 17 residents and 18 employees fell ill. The virus killed six residents.

Coronavirus in filters ventilation system

The GGD Rotterdam investigated the ventilation system after the major outbreak and reported it to RIVM. The investigation revealed that the mesh of the ventilation system and the air conditioning is in it A living room of the nursing home contained particles of the coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 RNA), according to a confidential update from RIVM, owned by EenVandaag.

Pulmonologist Hans in ‘t Veen has long suspected ventilation systems as a possible spread of the virus and hopes that now the last doubt will disappear. “This is the missing puzzle piece. This proven connection is the same as finding DNA in a crime. The evidence has been provided. You have to reason very crookedly if you still think that ventilation systems do not play a role.”

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“It’s even better to just open the windows”

According to the RIVM, there is recirculation of air in one room in this nursing home. “There is no connection to other rooms via the ventilation system. … Both the incoming and outgoing air is purified by filters.”

Ventilation expert Peter Uges calls this nonsense. “Those spaces should be ventilated with 100 percent outside air.” The filters do not stop the virus, he says. “It’s even better to just open the windows.”

Ventilation expert Uges explains how the conscious ventilation system works in the De Tweemaster nursing home.

RIVM keeps its leg stiff

After renovation, the department in question was given an energy-efficient ventilation system in which the air is recirculated in one room. For example, the dirty virus air is simply pumped back into the rooms, says ventilation expert Peter Uges. “In the meantime, RIVM keeps its leg stiff.”

Microbiologists at the Franciscus Gasthuis hospital in Rotterdam have already informed other healthcare institutions of the findings. The nursing home in Maassluis does not want to respond to the current situation. And RIVM says it is waiting for additional follow-up research from GGD Rotterdam-Rijnmond.

Blind spot

Hans in ‘t Veen is not all fast enough. He has been very concerned for months about the influence of air exchange on infections.

It is urgent now, the pulmonologist says. “Autumn is already approaching. If this is not tackled decisively now, I am afraid there will be more outbreaks in nursing homes.” According to In ‘t Veen, this important signal should not be ignored.

Uncertainty about ventilation systems

There are 2,350 nursing home locations in the Netherlands, but it is unclear how many installations recirculate (reuse) air because dozens of different ventilation and climate systems are in use.

Branch organization ActiZ has immediately shared a new RIVM guideline on ventilation with its members. However, care organizations make an inventory of the measures that are possible or necessary for each location.

Explanation video: how a virus works and why corona spreads so quickly

Behind the simple word “virus” is a whole world that you may not know about. Because what exactly is a virus and how does it make you sick? And what makes corona so dangerous? In this video, reporter Tom van ‘t Einde explains.

Three ways of contamination

According to pulmonologist In ‘t Veen, there are three ways to spread the virus and become infected. “Via surfaces, that’s why we wash our hands. Through the big drops, that’s why we keep a meter and a half away. But also via aerosols, small drops that you can combat with good ventilation and sufficient outside air.” Not enough attention is paid to the latter. But we didn’t hear Jaap van Dissel about that, says In ‘t Veen. “It really is a blind spot.”

As early as May, 237 international scientists wrote a letter of fire to the World Health Organization (WHO). The message was: take the spread of the virus via aerosols, the third way, finally seriously.

‘Far too little is listened to in practice’

Ventilation expert Peter Uges was already awake weeks ago. “You hear all those people who die, people talk about mouth masks, but there must be more, right?” He was sure it had to be the ventilation systems too. “It was terrible that it was not taken seriously.”

“Why can’t RIVM say, ‘Sorry we got it wrong’? They keep their paw stiff until they can go no further, and then they have to admit reluctantly.” I think the government hadn’t even heard of the word “ventilation”. Far too little is listened to in practice. “

Airing, airing, airing

The solution would be very simple, according to Peter Uges. “See if you can convert the existing installation to fully ventilate with outside air. RIVM should simply make this mandatory in care homes.”

It is not yet known when the GGD will publish additional research, until then the ventilation expert’s message is clear: “Airing, airing, airing, that mess should get out of the building.”

Watch the TV report on this subject here.


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