Feng Shui literally translates from Chinese as “wind” (Feng) and water (“Shui”). It is a traditional practise originating from ancient China, which claims to use energy forces to harmonize individuals with their surrounding environment. In Chinese culture, wind and water are both associated with good health. It contains a set of principles to help align one’s living spaces. Feng shui is not a science and is classified as a pseudoscience since it contains beliefs or practices that are both scientific and factual but are incompatible with the scientific method. In the time of the COVID-19 pandemic, we may use the literal study of the wind and water to help achieve good health.
A study on an outbreak of the COVID-19 disease that involved three family clusters who were dining in an air-conditioned restaurant in Guangzhou, China, found that the spread was from droplet transmission. The droplet transmission was prompted by air-conditioned ventilation and the key factor for infection was the direction of the airflow. It shows that the COVID-19 virus can spread across tables even though there is social distancing due to the direction of the airflow in the restaurant. The study was published in the CDC’s Emerging Disease Journal.
Understanding the airflow and air handling within a room or building will allow us to understand how the virus can spread.
Natural ventilation is always the best, a house with good feng shui start with good natural environment where the air and water are pure and unpolluted. Feng shui promote natural light and fresh air for your indoor environment.
However, in some situation it is difficult to get natural ventilation or lighting, for example in offices or a General Practitioner’s (GP) clinic. Most of the GP clinics in Malaysia is located in shop lots. These clinics usually use the split air-conditioning units for climate control. The problem with the use of the split air-conditioning units is that the air is recirculated as there are no fresh air intake vents. The recirculation of air within the consultation room will increase the risk of transmission of infectious diseases from patients to the GP and from one patient to the next patient.
However, there are some simple steps that a GP can take to reduce the risk of transmission. Besides wearing proper and appropriate personal protective equipment when attending to the patient. They can also rearrange their practice so that the airflow will be optimised to reduce transmission. Installing a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter will also improve the air quality in the room. The efficiency of the HEPA filter needs to be able to remove at least 99.97% of dust (Class H14), pollen, mould, bacteria, and any airborne particles with a size of 0.3 microns.
Arrangement in a GP Clinic
The figures below show some recommendations on how to arrange the furniture in the consultation room in the GP clinic to reduce the chances of transmission of infectious diseases. The arrangement of furniture as shown in Figures 1 and 2 are NOT RECOMMENDED as it will increase the chances of exposure from the direction the air from the aircon is blowing. In both figures, the aircon is blowing from the patient towards the doctor.
Instead, the furniture should be arranged in such a manner that the aircon should be blowing from the doctor towards the patient (Figures 3 and 4). This will reduce the risk of exposure. Further, it is also recommended that the doctor attending to a patient in a GP practice should wear surgical masks and a face shield. This is because in the GP practice, there is usually no triage counter and all patients should be treated as suspected COVID19 patients. If the doctor is performing an Aerosol Generating Procedure, then an N95 mask should be worn instead of the surgical mask.
If the GP decide to install a portable air purifier with a HEPA filter, it should be located at the other end of room, where the direction of air is flowing. This will capture the most amount of contaminants.
Understanding of the “feng shui” of the clinic will allow the GP to reduce exposure to occupational hazards.
In an article published by Dr Victor Hoe in the Berita MMA June 2020 issue. He discusses the relationship between having good air circulation and the risk of the spread of coronavirus.
Disclaimer: Dr Victor Hoe is neither a Feng Shui expert nor a certified engineer, the view he provided here is based on his education and 20 years of experience in Occupational Safety and Health.