Newshub in New Zealand reported on March 9, 2020:

Scientists in Singapore may have found a clue as to how so many people aboard cruise ship the Diamond Princess ended up getting infected with COVID-19.

It appears the virus might be able to spread through air conditioning systems.


The third room however had samples taken before cleaning, and it tested positive. Thirteen out of 15 spots in the room had positive test results for the virus - including air outlet fans.

If true, this would appear to increase the risk in many public buildings.

Can COVID-19 be caught through air-conditioning systems?

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    Welcome to Skeptics! According to the FAQ, Skeptics.SE is for researching the evidence behind the claims you hear or read. Your original question was about your own speculation; it has been edited to focus on the actual claim you found.
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 20, 2020 at 2:47
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    I don't think the edited question is on-topic either. This is about research-level science. Do you expect a bunch of internet warriors to find better information than medical scientists?
    – pipe
    Mar 20, 2020 at 9:32
  • Note: if true, it wouldn't really be unique to this virus. It's more like "air conditioning systems spread the virus" than "the virus spreads itself in air conditioning systems". The latter makes it sound like the virus is doing the work.
    – user253751
    Mar 20, 2020 at 15:53
  • @Oddthinking Thanks again! and also for reopening and editing (looks very decent :) Mar 20, 2020 at 18:18
  • @user253751 right. I meant the former quote. Mar 20, 2020 at 18:28

1 Answer 1


This is the interesting part of the article:

But "swabs taken from the air exhaust outlets tested positive, suggesting that small virus-laden droplets may be displaced by airflows and deposited on equipment such as vents".

(emphasize mine)

Which is a direct quote from the abstract of the study.

The exhaust they're most likely referring to is the exhaust in the room where the third patient that tested positive resided. And the only conclusion they came to from that swab test was that the virus can be displaced in droplets with airflow.

Whoever wrote that article completely misunderstood that sentence. They are not saying that the virus spread through their air condition system of their isolation unit. If it did, their isolation unit would be utterly useless.

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    I have to confess that I still don't understand what that sentence is supposed to mean. Any chance you could give a simple translation?
    – Oddthinking
    Mar 21, 2020 at 2:28
  • @Oddthinking It's just stating what we already know. That droplets get carried around with the airflow and can thus end up on certain surfaces like the vent that they tested. Mar 21, 2020 at 20:10

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