One of the hottest topics at the moment is the spread of the Wuhan novel coronavirus infection. Many organisations are concerned about how best to protect their workers in the face of a major public health alert. It’s shining a spotlight on employers’ approaches to cleaning and infection control. In this blog, we’re looking at what the experts know so far, and how to approach the issue of virus decontamination, whatever the pathogen.
What's in a name?
There has been some confusion about the name. A number of different names are currently in circulation for the disease, so for the avoidance of doubt we're talking about the Wuhan novel coronavirus infection. This has often been referred to as 2019-nCoV, but was officially named Covid-19 by the World Health Organisation (WHO) on 11 February (read here for the full press release). To add to the confusion, it has most recently been labelled as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus Two (Sars-CoV-2) by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. For more on the complexity of naming a virus read more.
What we know about coronavirus/Covid-19
At this stage, it’s still an emerging picture about CoVid-19. Health and epidemiology experts have tentatively determined that the virus is spread via droplet contamination. This means that it’s spread in close quarters, when it becomes airborne after an infected person coughs or sneezes. However, there is some conflicting evidence that the virus has been passed on by people without symptoms. Given this, it seems likely that the virus will be able to linger on hard surfaces.
It’s also been determined that in common with other coronaviruses, this is a seasonal virus. Infection rates should therefore decline in the northern hemisphere’s warmer months. Nevertheless, scientists have established that the virus has a genetic structure which makes it likely to mutate easily. This supports suggestions that the virus might become pandemic and may survive into future winter seasons. Therefore, it’s important for employers to plan how they can combat this and other seasonal viruses now and into the future.
Health and safety in the workplace and beyond
Sometimes, employers need to take practical measures to address health issues. The UK’s Health & Safety Executive (HSE) website has general health and safety advice about cleaning. Employers can take action to limit the risks associated with the spread of infections such as Covid-19. These include performing routine workplace housekeeping and guaranteeing the availability of washrooms and handwashing supplies. But many of these steps are focused on making a workplace safer, while a more general approach will be effective longer term.
To this end, it’s vital to promote a general culture of health and safety at work and beyond. This includes not reporting to work if sick and taking up vaccinations if offered. Employers should communicate that people need to take care when touching surfaces where viruses and other pathogens may linger. This extends to good etiquette when sneezing or coughing, including covering your nose and mouth with a disposable tissue and throwing the tissue away afterwards. Everyone needs to practise good hand hygiene, washing with hot water and soap after such activities as eating, coughing, sneezing or using the toilet. (Many viruses and bacteria are resistant to alcohol, so hand sanitiser may not be sufficient). And of course, given the nature of transmission, all these measures are especially important for people who are in public-facing roles.
Virus decontamination and infection control for long-term health and safety
Since with Covid-19 we face an international health alert, it’s practical actions that will take priority in virus decontamination. Here at React, we’re available to provide infection control services wherever and whenever they’re needed. As specialists, we’re here to advise and guide other organisations on virus decontamination, and we’ll provide effective solutions.
To find out more about infection control and our range of other specialist cleaning services which contribute to virus decontamination, contact one of the team today.
Post by Shaun D. Doak
Shaun is the Managing Director of React Specialist Cleaning. He is deeply committed to making sure that every one of our company’s clients receives the highest possible level of service. An expert in HVAC and commercial and industrial cleaning methodologies, Shaun has extensive experience in the facilities management and renewable services sector.