Many countries have responded to the coronavirus outbreak by enforcing a lockdown to break the chain of infection and reduce its spread to avoid overwhelming health services. However, if you have a vital service or business that has to keep functioning, it’s essential to take every precaution to protect the people who use your premises, including your employees, visitors and members of the public.
And, if your premises have been shut down, your employees and other users will want assurance that your premises are safe before they return and that they’ll stay safe while they’re using them.
Coronavirus (COVID-19) is a highly infectious disease, rapidly spreading from one city in China in December 2019 to over 200 countries and territories over three months. With no vaccine or specific treatment, the main advice to prevent COVID-19 is to practise stringent hygiene measures.
This includes cleaning and disinfecting surfaces and objects that people frequently touch. Even when restrictions are lifted, there are likely to be more waves of coronavirus infections as people come into contact with others, so we all have to stay vigilant and continue using hygienic practices.
Protecting key touchpoints against the coronavirus
Poor hand hygiene is a particular problem because people frequently cough and sneeze into their hands or touch their mouth or nose, providing a ready means to spread the coronavirus to everything they touch. The virus can be transferred to other people when they touch a contaminated surface and become infected when they touch their mouth, nose or eyes.
In hospitals, schools, social care, offices, retail outlets, hotels, and public transport, there are many key touchpoints that people commonly share, including:
- door handles
- supermarket trollies and baskets
- petrol pumps
- rubbish bins
- kitchen and dining surfaces
- taps, kettles
- toilet flush handles or buttons
- stair rails, handrails, grab handles and grab rails
- recycling areas
There’s also a risk of contamination from bodily fluids and toilet sneeze.
- The coronavirus (the virus itself is called SARS CoV-2) was found to be present in the faeces of patients and for an average of 11 days after it had disappeared from the respiratory tract.
- Toilet ‘sneeze’, the plume of droplets created by flushing, spreads faecal micro-organisms around a washroom. They settle on surfaces such as the seat, floor, walls, unprotected tissue, cubicle and washroom door handles, wash basins, taps and soap dispensers.
Studies in offices have shown that germs can spread from an infected person to the entire office in 2–4 hours via contaminated touchpoints. They all need regular cleaning and disinfecting with approved products to ensure protection from infection.
How to decontaminate coronavirus
Cleaning and disinfecting areas and objects play an essential role in protecting people from COVID-19. It’s critical in returning a site to safe use after an infected person has visited your premises.
As a facilities manager, you’ll need to ask the following questions.
- How quickly can I get my facilities up and running again?
- Are my premises virus-free and are the surfaces in my premises safe to touch and use again?
- What hygiene procedures and virus control measures do I need to put in place immediately?
- How do I develop a strategy to implement robust hygiene standards in my organisation?
- What do I need to do to comply with changing regulations and how do I safeguard against this happening again?
You may have cleaners that do regular cleaning tasks, but controlling a highly infectious virus causing a pandemic requires a higher level of expertise and control measures that only a professional service can provide.
Cleaning and disinfection treatments
A disinfection service will first survey the site using specialists. The survey will provide a site-specific:
- Risk assessment
- Method statement
- Safe operating procedures
Specially trained disinfection technicians manually clean and disinfect the site using specialist equipment, including personal protective equipment (PPE) and an approved high-level surface disinfectant. They will go through the contaminated rooms and areas systematically cleaning all the key touch points and surfaces.
Areas contaminated with bodily fluids such as blood, urine, vomit or human faeces will need specialist cleaning. These fluids can seep into porous materials and areas that are difficult to detect for people without specialist training. Standard cleaning methods are unlikely to ensure decontamination.
Sanitising large and hard to access areas
Manual methods are the first choice to disinfect surfaces, but for combating airborne pathogens and disinfecting large areas that require rapid re-entry of treated areas, fogging is an ideal solution.
Ultra-low volume (ULV) disinfection fogging involves using a fogger machine to generate a cloud of extremely small droplets of a disinfectant liquid. The application of disinfectants and biocides using this method can significantly reduce the number of pathogens both on surfaces and in the air.
The droplets can settle underneath, on top of and on the sides of many objects and inaccessible areas that may be difficult or not possible to reach using conventional cleaning methods. It also reaches a wider range of surfaces than manual cleaning, including textiles.
Rapid ULV fogging and disinfection enables the treatment of large areas in a short space of time to help to quickly break the chain of infection.
Disinfection: An assured service
Cleaning and disinfecting are essential measures for managers of buildings to making areas contaminated by the coronavirus safe and to quickly return them to normal use. Professional disinfection services have the techniques, tools and most appropriate products to disinfect areas to make them safe and return them to use as quickly as possible.
When completed, you can be sure that cleaning and disinfection have been carried out using approved safety procedures, tools and products that are compliant with safety regulations. The completion report will help to reassure your staff, customers and visitors that the premises are safe again. Ongoing cleaning regimes will provide further reassurance that facilities managers are maintaining high standards of hygiene on their premises.