ISSN: 0973-7510

E-ISSN: 2581-690X

Research Article | Open Access
Hibah M. Albasri1 and Sultan M. Alsharif2
1Department of Biology, College of Science, Taibah University, Madinah, Saudi Arabia.
2Department of Biology, Faculty of Science, Taibah University, Madinah P.O. Box 887, Saudi Arabia.
Article Number: 9085 | © The Author(s). 2024
J Pure Appl Microbiol. 2024;18(1):638-652. https://doi.org/10.22207/JPAM.18.1.47
Received: 26 October 2023 | Accepted: 23 January 2024 | Published online: 02 March 2024
Issue online: March 2024
Abstract

The COVID-19 outbreak was a serious challenge for countries around the globe. With the objective of mitigating the spread of the virus, both national and international health organizations swiftly enacted quarantine measures across numerous cities around the globe. This presented a unique chance to evaluate the consequences of human actions on the quality of the air. This study aimed to investigate airborne microbial levels in different outdoor locations in Al-Madinah City, Kingdom of Saudi Arabia (KSA), during the COVID-19 pandemic by comparing lockdown against non-lockdown conditions. Twelve outdoor locations were investigated in terms of microbial total counts using the open plate method during and after the COVID-19 lockdown. Environmental factors that could affect the airborne microbial load, including humidity, temperature and wind speed, were recorded during the assessment. The means of the total colony-forming units (CFU) for each cubic meter (m3) of air were calculated. Lockdown restrictions caused significant decreases in the biological contaminants in all locations compared with the numbers after the pandemic. Gram-positive bacteria represented most of the samples, with fewer fungal strains detected. The outdoor average total bacterial counts ranged between 0.00±0.00-8337.50±248.98 CFU/m3, compared with 2903.75±407.60-19722.50±475.03 CFU/m3 after the pandemic. The mean concentrations of total fungi were lower than those of bacteria and ranged between 0.00±0.00-143.75±131.75 CFU/m3 during the COVID-19 lockdown and were elevated after the lockdown to reach 28.75±49.80-776.25±298.78 CFU/m3. Based on the available data, there are no studies comparing outdoor microbial counts during and after the COVID-19 pandemic. Therefore, this research offers additional perspectives on the air quality experienced amidst the COVID-19 pandemic and the subsequent implementation of lockdown measures and could serve as a valuable resource for monitoring and implementing measures to control air pollution.

Keywords

COVID-19, Lockdown Measures, Outdoor Air, Air Quality, Airborne Bacteria, Airborne Fungi, Anthropogenic Activities

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© The Author(s) 2024. Open Access. This article is distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License which permits unrestricted use, sharing, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided you give appropriate credit to the original author(s) and the source, provide a link to the Creative Commons license, and indicate if changes were made.