COVID-19 has a great deal in common with the Rhinovirus--the source of the common cold--including prevention and control measures.
Preventing COVID-19 and Other Viral Outbreaks
COVID-19 is one of three, maybe four coronavirus strains to jump from animal to humans while maintaining the ability to spread from human to human--two well known past examples being MERS and SARS.
Coronaviruses, the Rhinovirus, Respiratory Syncytial Virus (RSV), and Parainfluenza are responsible for the vast majority of colds around the world, though each peak during a different part of the season--coronaviruses more commonly occurring during the winter and spring, while rhinovirus infections peak during early fall, spring, and summer.
Due to the structure of the COVID-19 virus, it is highly susceptible to removal and inactivation by hospital-grade disinfectants.
The SARS-CoV-2 virus which is responsible for COVID-19 is an enveloped virus and therefore it is the easiest virus to inactivate.
An EPA-registered broad-spectrum hospital-grade disinfectant with a claim against at least one large non-enveloped virus or one small non-enveloped virus can be expected to be effective at inactivating an enveloped virus.
[...] these viruses are the least resistant to inactivation by disinfectants.
The structure of these viruses includes a lipid envelope which is easily compromised by most disinfectants.
Once the lipid envelope is damaged, the integrity of the virus is compromised, thereby neutralizing its infectivity.
Methods of Transmission
Thus far, it has been assumed that the primary method of transmission for the COVID-19 virus has been airborne.
That is not to say that other methods, including touch, have not been responsible for wide-scale spread.
One method that has come to light that is of special concern is the potential for fecal-oral transmission, which is incredibly common with norovirus.
While many building managers and cleaning professionals are focused on the fact that COVID-19 (coronavirus) is spread by inhaling germs or touching contaminated surfaces, new evidence from China indicates it can also be spread by fecal-oral transmission.
A large percentage of coronavirus patients experienced diarrhea, nausea, vomiting and abdominal discomfort before the onset of respiratory symptoms.
The genetic material associated with the coronavirus, RNA, was detectable in fecal samples.
Fecal-oral transmission can last even after a patent has recovered from the virus.
COVID-19 Prevention Methods
COVID-19 is susceptible to standard cold and flu season infection prevention and control procedures.
The first steps involve personal health and hygiene.
- If you're sick, stay home.
- If your symptoms progress, seek medical attention.
- Wash your hands with soap and water, especially after using the restroom and before eating.
- Use hand sanitizer after washing.
- Do not touch your face--eyes, nose, and mouth--when out in public.
- Avoid contact with others when you are sick, or others who are ill, when possible.
The next steps involve standard cleaning and disinfection practices.
- Always clean before disinfecting.
- Increasing disinfection frequency before, during, and after outbreaks has been shown to halt the spread of illness.
- Use high-quality products and well-maintained tools.
- Launder clothes, mop heads, and other fabric materials used after each cleaning session.
- Employ color-coded microfiber, the two-bucket method, room mapping, and worker training to avoid cross-contamination.
- Observe disinfectant laytime before wiping down.
- Consider the application of no-touch disinfection methods when available.
The final phase involves ongoing touchpoint cleaning and disinfection.
Touchpoints, or fomites, are common surfaces regularly touched by people during the day and tend to harbor large numbers of germs, viruses, and bacteria.
Identifying these points throughout your facility and then wiping them down at regular intervals, depending on foot traffic, occupancy, and use will keep the detectable levels of germs and viruses low.
The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency recommends the use of various QUAT-based disinfectants, which are hospital grade, and should only be applied by trained professionals wearing the appropriate safety equipment.
The most common touchpoints in any facility include:
- The front door plate.
- Coffee pot handles.
- The sink faucet handle in the break room.
- Pretty much anything in a restroom.
- Elevator buttons.
- Vending machine buttons.
- Stairway, walkway, and escalator rails.
- Computer and phone equipment, and;
References & Resources
By far and large, COVID-19 prevention uses the same infection prevention and control methods recommended for preventing the spread of the cold and flu year around--something your facility should be doing anyway.
COVID-19 has proven especially vulnerable to hospital-grade QUAT disinfection, which should only be handled by trained professionals, underscoring the importance of outsourcing your facilities' advanced cleaning and disinfection services to an experienced and qualified professional service provider.
If you would like more information regarding the effectiveness of high-performance infection prevention and control measures, or if you would like to schedule a free, no-obligation onsite assessment of your facility's custodial needs, contact us today for a free quote!
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