Numerical Flow Simulation on the Virus Spread of SARS-CoV-2 Due to Airborne Transmission in a Classroom

Int J Environ Res Public Health. 2022 May 22;19(10):6279. doi: 10.3390/ijerph19106279.


In order to continue using highly frequented rooms such as classrooms, seminar rooms, offices, etc., any SARS-CoV-2 virus concentration that may be present must be kept low or reduced through suitable ventilation measures. In this work, computational fluid dynamics (CFD) is used to develop a virtual simulation model for calculating and analysing the viral load due to airborne transmission in indoor environments aiming to provide a temporally and spatially-resolved risk assessment with explicit relation to the infectivity of SARS-CoV-2. In this work, the first results of the model and method are presented. In particular, the work focuses on a critical area of the education infrastructure that has suffered severely from the pandemic: classrooms. In two representative classroom scenarios (teaching and examination), the duration of stay for low risk of infection is investigated at different positions in the rooms for the case that one infectious person is present. The results qualitatively agree well with a documented outbreak in an elementary school but also show, in comparisons with other published data, how sensitive the assessment of the infection risk is to the amount of virus emitted on the individual amount of virus required for infection, as well as on the supply air volume. In this regard, the developed simulation model can be used as a useful virtual assessment for a detailed seat-related overview of the risk of infection, which is a significant advantage over established analytical models.

Keywords: CFD; SARS-CoV-2; airbone transmission; environmental science and engineering; indoor air; infection risk; public health; ventilation.

Publication types

  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • COVID-19* / epidemiology
  • Computer Simulation
  • Disease Outbreaks
  • Humans
  • SARS-CoV-2*
  • Ventilation

Grant support

This work has been financially supported by the Saxonian Ministry of Science and Arts as well as the European Union within the research project SmartKMU (Project No. 100 38 21 59).