Cleaning companies urged to review processes amid virus spike in Victoria

Cleaning firms urged to review processes, including infection control training and social distancing protocols.


Cleaning companies are being urged to review their processes, including infection control training and social distancing protocols, as Victoria records 73 new coronavirus cases, up from 64 yesterday.

Of the new cases, three are from hotel quarantine, nine are associated with known and contained outbreaks, 19 were found as a result of routine testing and there are 42 that remain under investigation, Premier Daniel Andrews said on Wednesday.

On Tuesday Andrews said genomic sequencing had linked a number of cases to “staff members in hotel quarantine breaching well-known and well-understood infection control protocols.”

“Let’s be really clear about this, there have been unacceptable infection control breaches in hotel quarantine,” the Premier said.

It also comes after a cleaner tested positive for coronavirus at Melbourne’s Tullamarine Airport over the weekend. It is understood the cleaner, who works at Customs House at Tullamarine Airport, tested positive on Saturday, with the offices undergoing a deep clean over the weekend.

Bridget Gardner, director of HPC Cleaning Solutions, told Inclean the cases at Tullamarine Airport is a timely reminder of how infectious the coronavirus is.

“We’ve been focusing hard on cleaning and disinfection to protect the building occupants, but this reminds us of the responsibilities that cleaning companies have toward their own staff,” Gardner said.

“How many staff members have been in contact with the infected cleaner and will now need to be quarantined for two weeks as well? This could have a huge impact on a small cleaning business. Did they have a risk management plan for their business continuity? Or how to manage their other staff in this situation?”

Gardner, who has developed a Guide to Cleaning for COVID-19 which includes risk plans, standard operating procedures, high touch point protocols and a COVID-Safe Cleaning Plan, said cleaning companies need to re-evaluate their infection control training processes and ensure services are scheduled so cleaners can work while social distancing.

“This is also a timely reminder of how infectious the coronavirus is. Twelve of the 14 cases from the Melbourne Stamford Hotel outbreak were security guards and it appears to have been spread by sharing cigarette lighters and car-pooling to work.

“How well are cleaning companies training their staff in infection control and scheduling their services so they can work while social distancing? Or are they piling into the cleaner’s room together and not cleaning equipment?”

As of 30 June 2020, the total number of coronavirus (COVID-19) cases in Victoria was 2159. Of the total 2159 cases, there have been 1830 in metropolitan Melbourne and 250 in regional Victoria. Several cases remain under investigation.

Victoria has now reimposed stage three restrictions on 10 postcodes across Melbourne.  These “hot zones” will be required to return to stage three Stay at Home restrictions – until at least 29 July. The businesses and facilities in these areas that have been able to recently reopen will also be restricted.

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