The promotion and education of hand hygiene is critical to preventing the spread of infectious microorganisms including coronavirus, according to Darran Leyden, managing director of industrial cleaning products manufacturer, Whiteley Corporation.
There are now more than 17,000 confirmed cases of coronavirus worldwide, with the majority in China, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).
In Australia, there have been 12 confirmed cases, including four in NSW, three in Victoria and two in Queensland. On Saturday South Australia recorded its first confirmed case after a Chinese couple tested positive to the disease.
Last week WHO declared the new strain of coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern. The decision was announced after a Geneva meeting of the international organisation’s emergency committee.
“Unfortunately, with the Coronavirus(2019-nCoV) now on our own doorstep, it’s only a matter of time before we have more confirmed cases in Australia. Every institution should be re-evaluating their infection prevention procedures,” Leyden told INCLEAN.
“Cleaning companies and facilities should be implementing good hygiene practices. Whether it’s as simple as making sure products such as tissues are put in the bin straight away after use, or ensuring if [staff] are using neutral detergents they make sure every surface is cleaned thoroughly and regularly.”
According to Leyden the disinfection of high touch areas as well as regular hand washing is critical, adding demand for surface disinfection and hand hygiene products has “skyrocketed” for the medical and industrial cleaning products manufacturer.
“When people touch surfaces, they transmit pathogens or infectious material from the surface onto others and potentially onto themselves, so regular hand hygiene is important.
“Wash hands if they are visibly soiled using soap and water, then perform hand hygiene using an alcohol-based hand rub on a regular basis. This is vital if you are in physical contact with other people and surfaces, and is critical in keeping both staff and workplaces safe.”
Bridget Gardner, director of HPC Solutions, said it’s critical cleaning companies have pandemic cleaning policies, especially if they manage public facilities and educational facilities, such as airports and universities with high international student populations.
“It’s not just about cleaning protocols, it’s also about protecting cleaners who are in the frontline. Face masks, hand hygiene education and high touch point cleaning protocols should be given to all cleaners.”
Kim Puxty, national president of the Building Service Contractors Association of Australia (BSCAA), said all cleaning companies should have in place an infectious disease control policy and update staff on infection control practices.
“The BSCAA encourages all cleaning companies to have in place an Infectious Disease Control Policy and to train/retrain staff on infection control practices, such as;
- Following written cleaning methods
- Consider increasing the frequency and/or increasing cleaning of high touch points (i.e. door handles/plates, shared workstations)
- Wearing of personal protective equipment [PPE] when cleaning surfaces and facilities and training in use of chemicals
- Cleaning cloths should be changed after each use and cleaned and dried before being used again. Cloths should be changed immediately following the cleaning of blood or body fluid/substance spills. Consider using single-use cleaning items, where possible, for a period of time
- Mop heads should be changed and cleaned with disinfectant. Mop buckets rinsed out with disinfectant
- Routine environmental cleaning should be sufficient to ensure that infectious diseases are less likely to be transmitted i.e. neutral detergent followed by a hospital grade disinfectant. Detergents should not be mixed with other chemicals.”
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