Expert panel: Creating COVID-safe environments - University of the Sunshine Coast, Queensland, Australia

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Expert panel: Creating COVID-safe environments

27 Oct 2020

Ensuring our environments are safe and hygienic in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic will be the topic of a free public webinar on Thursday 29 October from 6-7pm.

Experts from USC in microbiology, public health and urban design will come together to discuss the topic ‘Creating COVID-safe environments’ as part of USC’s ongoing Research Unmasked series.

One of the panellists is Senior Lecturer in Environmental Microbiology Dr Ipek Kurtboke, who noticed a global reduction in hygiene standards leading up to the pandemic.

“Airports and aircrafts have crammed ever larger numbers of passengers into ever smaller economy-class seats,” Dr Kurtboke said in a recent piece for The Conversation.

“Since microorganisms are invisible, it is hard to combat such a powerful enemy.”

In the webinar, Dr Kurtboke will discuss how improved public understanding of microbiology can lead to COVID-safe environments and stop creation of superbugs like the recent coronavirus.

Also on the webinar panel will be USC Nursing Lecturer Matt Mason and USC Urban Design and Town Planning Lecturers Dr Nicholas Stevens and Dr Silvia Tavares. Their articles in The Conversation here and here.

Dr Tavares said urban designers and planners had a long-term role in ensuring urban life was healthy, and that high-density living could be safe and appropriate, when done right.

“To fight infectious diseases, cities need well-ventilated urban spaces with good access to sunlight,” Dr Tavares said.

“Once COVID-19 is less of a threat, we will crave the normality of going back to our old lifestyles as much as possible. But we have to do this correctly to be safe.”

USC Nursing Lecturer Matt Mason, who consults to the World Health Organisation Global Outbreak Response Network, will discuss infection prevention in healthcare facilities during COVID-19.

Organiser Dr Gemma Read said the ‘Research Unmasked’ series was a chance for people to understand the role of science and research in supporting communities to adapt and respond in uncertain times.

“We want people to come away from the webinars with a sense of positivity and hope, knowing that there are researchers in our own regions who understand what is happening globally and how we can adapt for a better future,” Dr Read said.

She said future topics of the five-week webinar series included business adaptation and resilience.

People can register for the ‘Research Unmasked’ series www.usc.edu.au/research-unmasked

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