Coronaviruses are a type of organism that often cause respiratory diseases in people and animals. In the fall of 2019 a new mutation of a coronavirus was first detected in China. The new variation was soon recognized to have properties similar to the 2003 coronavirus that led to the description of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS). As such, the virus was named SARS-CoV-2 by the World Health Organization (WHO). Exposure to SARS-CoV-2 can lead to a specific form of illness characterized by very high fever and dry cough named coronavirus disease 2019 – abbreviated to COVID-19.
Within months of its identification, despite extensive efforts at containment, COVID-19 spread around the globe and was declared by the World Health Organization to be a “pandemic”; a world-wide epidemic of an illness for which people have no natural immunity. To address the risk, significant efforts are being directed at developing a vaccine. However, as of the published date of this document, no such preventative medicine is available. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) “Nonpharmaceutical intervention would be the most important response strategy” to COVID-19. Their pronouncement means that infection control and home care of the affected are the key response measures.
It is noted that older adults, particularly those with weakened immune systems and underlying health problems, are at a higher risk for severe COVID-19 associated illness. This means that medical facilities and eldercare accommodations are especially vulnerable to outbreaks.
Decades of scientific studies and practical experience have shown that effective control of infectious agents in the population requires a nearly equal combination of adjusting people’s behavior and taking additional steps to stop the spread of contamination from surfaces. This dual approach to infection control is necessary for COVID-19, as the best available information indicates that it is spread both by direct exposure to the droplets aerosolized when an infected individual coughs or sneezes and by secondary exposure of uninfected people to objects and surfaces with residual viral particles.
Secondary exposure is likely more of a problem with COVID-19 than the normal flu as some early reports from the CDC indicate that the virus may remain viable on nonporous surfaces for up to nine days as compared to one-three days for normal influenza viruses. The recommendations in this document are designed to address secondary human transmission through the cleaning of facilities to prevent the spread of the virus from surfaces within buildings. While the exact extent of disease transmission from contact with surfaces is currently unknown, initial indications are that prolonged exposure to contaminated surfaces does lead to higher infection rates. Therefore, cleaning surfaces and applying a disinfectant are important risk mitigation techniques.
The first step in cleaning and sanitizing to break the chain of COVID-19 illnesses from secondary surfaces is to remove soil and other surface contaminants. Emphasis should be placed on cleaning surfaces more likely to be touched by occupants; commonly referred to as touchpoints. Since people are not precise when touching objects, touchpoint cleaning should extend past the focused item 3-12 inches.
Common touchpoints include, but are not limited to, door knobs and locks, door push bars, door edges and jambs on the side opposite the hinges, stair and ramp hand railings, cupboard handles and drawer pulls, appliance handles, light switches, table and desktops, telephones, toilet seats and flush handles, faucet handles, soap pumps, keyboards and mice, elevator buttons, credit card keypads, vending machine buttons, equipment controls, television remote controls, chair armrests, bedrails, and countertops and more..
The minimum personal protective equipment (PPE) recommended by the CDC for individuals potentially exposed to COVID-19 includes gloves, gowns, eye protection, and respirators. Typically, workers in the restoration industry use disposable suits with attached hoods and booties for contaminant control work.
However, if a shortage of disposable suits occurs, disposable lab coats or full front treatment gowns with long sleeves that tie in back could also be used for body covering. Depending on the availability of disposable suits, workers may have to utilize reusable medical style scrubs consisting of top, pants, cap, and shoe covers. Such outerwear can be worn as a replacement for street clothes if a controlled changing area is available or purchased oversized and worn on top of street clothes. In such cases proper provisions for the collection, handling, and cleaning of clothes are necessary.
Antimicrobials and disinfectants can be used if approved by the EPA or the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) for the purpose of surface sanitization and/or listed on the EPA “Emerging Pathogen/List N” or meet the requirements of the emerging pathogens procedures for enveloped viruses (the class of organism of the SARS-CoV-2).
Several steps should be completed prior to the broadscale application of disinfectants to surfaces. Return air vents should be covered to prevent migration of the disinfectant into the equipment or to other areas. While air duct cleaning can be incorporated into COVID-19 response procedures, the EPA has strict rules regarding which products can be used in HVAC systems. It is also at this time not clear that the HVAC or air conveyance system plays a role in the spread of SARS-CoV-2 virus, and the inclusion of HVAC cleaning and decontamination therefore may not be necessary. Opening doors or windows to reduce the level of airborne droplets is recommended by the CDC. Read More…
Cleaning is an essential part of disinfection. Organic matter can inactivate many disinfectants. Cleaning reduces the soil load, allowing the disinfectant to work.
- Removal of germs such as the virus that causes COVID-19 requires thorough cleaning followed by disinfection.
- The length of time that SARS-COV-2 (the cause of COVID-19) survives on inanimate surfaces will vary depending on factors such as the amount of contaminated body fluid – such as respiratory droplets – present and environmental temperature and humidity. In general, coronaviruses are unlikely to survive for long once droplets produced by coughing or sneezing dry out.
It is good practice to routinely clean surfaces as follows:
- Clean frequently touched surfaces with detergent solution (see diagram attached).
- Clean general surfaces and fittings when visibly soiled and immediately after any spillage
The Corona Virus Threat is still at large, and, as scientists across the world scramble to develop vaccines, its time to batten down the hatches and step up the hygiene to reduce the chances of infection in shared residential environments.
Unfortunately as in all epidemics, our elderly and young are the most vulnerable, particularly when living in or attending shared facilities. We have created these guides to help facilities managers and staff best ensure they and their residents are guarded from infection as much as possible.
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The OHAir® technology – MySpace and MDU5 has also been operationally tested in several hospitals in Wuhan and orders confirmed as a result. OHAir® Hydroxyl technology is the only technology available that can actively reduce the viral contamination in occupied spaces, reducing the risk of cross-contamination.
The OHAir® difference is that the air does not need to go through the unit as it emits a safe treatment for the entire room. The OHAir® technology has also been through FDAs rigorous safety and efficacy testing where it demonstrated up to a 99.99999% reduction in Virus, bacteria and mould within 2-3 hours.