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The coronavirus pandemic has prompted widespread concern for hygiene and cleanliness in our workplaces and homes. Our government has endeavoured to impress upon people the importance of thorough hand-washing as this is known to help prevent the spread of infection. Ensuring our homes and workplaces are clean and sanitised is an important tactic that will help bring this pandemic to an end. Here are some practical cleaning and sanitisation guidelines that will help prevent the spread of coronavirus.
The term ‘coronavirus’ (CoV) is a family name for a type of virus that are known to cause respiratory infections in humans. At any given point in time there are numerous active cases of human coronavirus around the world. Most coronaviruses, such as the common cold, are not serious and only cause mild symptoms. But a few nasty coronaviruses can cause much more severe symptoms and even death.
This most recent worldwide coronavirus pandemic is due to what’s called Severe Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) and the disease that the coronavirus causes is called COVID-19.
COVID-19 is transmitted via droplets and what are called fomites (objects or materials which are likely to carry infection) that have been in close contact with an infected person. This strain of coronavirus is not airborne but infection can be transmitted by being in close proximity to an infected person (within about 2 metres), touching surfaces or other materials used by an infected person or sharing food with someone who has the infection.
World Health Organisation (WHO) studies in China determined that the most common location through which human-to-human transmission took place was in the home.
Governments around the world have primarily provided the following advice for people to reduce their risk of infection.
Since COVID-19 is not airborne, prevention advice is primarily focused on good hygiene and avoiding contact with other people. Frequent and thorough hand-washing has been found to be the most effective tactic in preventing the spread of this disease. And avoiding contact with people, some of whom will unknowingly be asymptomatic carriers of the disease, is why governments have required people to stay at home, unless they are essential key workers.
An important known attribute of this coronavirus is that it has what is called a lipid envelope. This means that the outer layer of the virus is made of fat, and regular household soaps are designed to dissolve fats. This is why thorough hand washing with soap and water is so effective.
When we are out and about in public or at work we are likely to touch surfaces, handles, door knobs and hand rails that have been touched by other people. Although the virus is not able to survive for very long on such surfaces it is still possible to convey infection from one person to another. This makes it vitally important to thoroughly wash your hands as soon as you can after having touched any surfaces or items that others may have previously touched.
Accessing readily available soap and water, when out in public places, is not always easy. In these circumstances an effective hand sanitiser might be used as an alternative. It’s important to know that hand sanitiser is not as effective as thorough washing with soap and water and that there is no standard for hand sanitiser products so they don’t all use the same ingredients. The USA Centre for Disease Control (CDC) recommends that hand sanitiser must contain at least 70% alcohol in order to be effective but the CDC also tells people that hand sanitiser is not as effective as thorough hand washing with soap and water.
When cleaning in both the home and workplace, special attention must be paid to what are called ‘high-touch’ surfaces. If there have been confirmed or suspected cases of COVID-19 amongst those who use a property then thorough deep cleaning is recommended in accordance with government guidelines on cleaning in non-healthcare settings.
The following guideline primarily apply to properties where there have been no known cases of COVID-19. Enhanced cleaning and sanitisation practices are recommended to reduce the risk of infection.
Cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces is a worthwhile precaution against the spread of COVID-19. It is now known that coronavirus can potentially live on some surfaces for up to 3 days. So what are these high-touch surfaces?
Here’s a list of 36 surfaces found both in the home and the workplace which, in many environments, will be ‘high-touch’ and are likely to be used by multiple people.
While this is not an exhaustive list, you should be able to readily identify the high touch surfaces that exist both in your home and in your workplace which you need to rigorously clean and disinfect. Some are likely to require more frequent sanitisation than others. It’s worth making your own cleaning list and defining exactly how often each surface should be disinfected and what with.
Surfaces which are in constant use (high-touch) need to be cleaned and disinfected frequently. This can mean cleaning and sanitising several times a day to reduce the risk of infection.
Some household cleaners, disinfectants and diluted bleach have all been recommended as effective cleaning agents. But it is worth noting that products which are indicated to be antibacterial may be less effective against viruses. Always read the instructions on any cleaning products before using them and be aware of how products will react with surfaces that are to be cleaned. Alcohol based sanitisation products should contain at least 70% alcohol to be effective.
The NHS provides some helpful guidance in preventing the spread of germs: NHS How to Prevent Germs from Spreading. Their recommendation is to use soap and water to wash germs away and then disinfectant to kill them. Hard surfaces such as worktops should firstly be cleaned with warm soapy water and then disinfected. An important piece of advice from the NHS points out that surfaces should not only be cleaned but also dried as dampness can help any remaining germs survive.
For more information and guidance on cleaning in non-healthcare environments please refer to this government guidance page: COVID-19: cleaning of non-healthcare settings.
If you have any questions regarding cleaning and sanitisation remember that we are here to help. Give us a call on 01273 475500 and we’ll give you some free, expert advice.
This message was added on Thursday 9th April 2020
Need Help or Advice?
Call the Insight team
01273 475 500