The importance of disinfection services for eliminating COVID-19
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, many vital services and businesses have to keep functioning. Therefore, it is essential that they take every precaution to protect the people who use their premises, including their employees, visitors and members of the public.
In Singapore, the Government has announced an extension to the Circuit Breaker until 1 June 2020, where additional protection measures, social distancing regulations and closure of several more businesses will be implemented. Currently, there are over 10,000 COVID-19 cases transmitted locally and 12 death cases reported.
COVID-19 is a highly infectious disease. It spreads rapidly from one city in China in December 2019 to 196 countries and territories over three months. As of yet (March 2020), there is no vaccine and no specific treatment. The main advice to prevent coronavirus disease is to practice stringent hygiene measures – especially hand hygiene and surface sanitisation – and to maintain social distancing in the following ways:
- Wash your hands frequently using soap and water for at least 20 seconds or alcohol-based hand sanitiser
- Cough or sneeze into a tissue and covered your mouth
- Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands
- Avoid close contact with other people — keep at least 1m away
- Stay home when you are unwell and see a doctor
- Clean and disinfect surfaces and objects that people frequently touch
For Facilities Managers
Whether in healthcare, social care, education or commercial properties – disinfection of areas and objects plays a vital role in protecting people from infection. It is critical in returning a site to safe use after an infected person has visited the premises. Even if one infected person enters a building, all the areas that person has visited will need disinfection. This ensures that they are safe for other people.
How is coronavirus spread?
COVID-19 is spread by coughing or sneezing, contact with other bodily fluids or from touching contaminated surfaces. When you cough or sneeze, you emit infected droplets of mucus or saliva from your respiratory tract (nose, mouth, throat, lungs) that can contain the virus particles. These droplets spread through the air to people close by – who then breathe them in – and settle on surfaces around the infected person.
Several studies have shown that people who are infected and do not show any symptoms (asymptomatic) can carry the virus in their upper respiratory tract and transmit the virus to others. Buildings may need to be disinfected even when visibly healthy people have been on the premises and show symptoms a day or two later.
Protecting key touchpoints
Firstly, poor hand hygiene is a particular problem. This is because people frequently cough and sneeze into their hands or touch their mouth or nose. Secondly, it provides a ready means to spread the virus to everything they touch. Finally, the virus can be transferred to other people when they touch a contaminated surface and then their mouth, nose or eyes.
There are many key touchpoints that people come into contact with in places. These include hospitals, schools, and care homes, offices, public transport and homes including the following.
- Door handles of the room, property or washroom
- Kitchen surfaces, counter tops, appliances, cabinets and taps
- Dining surfaces such as table, chairs and equipment
- Kettles and drinking utensils and cutleries
- Toilet flush handles or buttons in the cubicle
- Common spaces such as stair rails, handrails, grab handles and grab rails
These will all need cleaning and disinfecting with approved solutions and products to ensure protection from infection. At Rentokil, we offer sanitisation and disinfection services to remove bacteria and viruses effectively. It includes a ULV misting and wipe down of the surfaces with eco-green disinfectant solution that is safe and lasting residual effect. Our pest control specialists adhere to stringent safety policies. We use proper personal protective equipment for disinfection misting jobs delivered at premises including infected places.
Risk from bodily fluids
Apart from fluids from the respiratory tract, other bodily fluids that include blood and faecal matter can carry viruses. This also poses a significant health risk. Research has already shown that the novel coronavirus – the SARS CoV-2 virus – can actively replicate in the gastrointestinal tract. It was found to be present in the faeces of half of patients in one study — and for an average of 11 days after it was no longer detected in their respiratory tract.
Although no confirmed cases of virus transmission via the faecal-oral route have been reported for COVID-19 yet, there were confirmed cases for the closely related SARS virus (SARS CoV) during the 2003 outbreak. A Hong Kong housing block was found to have defects in the waste water plumbing system that caused 342 confirmed cases of infection and 42 deaths. The virus spread in droplets passing through empty U-bends in bathrooms and carried to different rooms in residents’ flats in the airflow.
Risk from toilet sneeze
Toilet ‘sneeze’ – the plume of droplets created by flushing – is a well-known cause of the spread of microorganisms around a washroom. Microorganisms from the toilet bowl can settle on surfaces. For example, the seat, floor, walls, unprotected tissue, cubicle and washroom door handles, wash basins, taps and soap dispensers.
Large numbers of bacteria and viruses remain in the toilet bowl after flushing. This is due to absorption by the porcelain surface. Regular cleaning and use of disinfectants in the flush water will help to reduce the spread of germs around the washroom.
Sanitising services such as the surface shield sanitisation and installing a urinal sanitiser can help control cross contamination risks and the spread of pathogens that make us sick with diseases. In addition, it is important to ensure good air quality within the environment by installing air purification devices.
Viability of SARS CoVid-2 on surfaces
There is little evidence, so far, showing how long the virus can remain viable on different surfaces. However, one recent study has made the headlines around the world. It found there were some viable virus particles remaining for up to four hours on copper, around 24 hours on cardboard, 48 hours on stainless steel and 72 hours on plastic. This was done in a laboratory in controlled conditions and can only be a guideline for everyday situations.
A coronavirus expert at Johns Hopkins School of Medicine advises that there are very few particles remaining after these times, so the risk of infection then is low. However, SARS CoV-2 has several mutations that are believed to make it more infectious than other coronaviruses. The author recommends an ‘overabundance of caution’ in cleaning and disinfecting surfaces.
How to decontaminate coronavirus
Firstly, during this epidemic, outbreaks of the coronavirus can happen at any time. They can happen in hospitals, primary care facilities, schools, and care homes, places of work, cruise ships, hotels and even housing blocks. Secondly, other places where large numbers of people gather, such as sports stadiums, theatres, cinemas and shopping centres can also become contaminated and at risk. Finally, spreading the virus to large numbers of people who will then disperse over to a large geographic area may result in a large-scale international transmission.
It is vital to decontaminate an area safely after an incident involving an infected person or contamination with biohazardous materials or waste. Premise owners should take quick action. This halts the spread of the virus to eliminate the risk of infection of others and to prevent the number of cases overwhelming healthcare systems. Every delay increases the rate of exponential growth in infections.
Cleaning and disinfection treatments
Cleaning surfaces and disinfecting them is the best practice for protecting the spread of COVID-19 in buildings. An office disinfection service involves a survey of the site. A site-specific risk assessment, method statement and safe operating procedures will be provided.
Firstly, specialists will manually disinfect the site. Secondly, they will wear appropriate personal protective equipment and use specialist equipment. Thirdly, an approved, high-level surface disinfectant is applied. Finally, going through the contaminated rooms and areas and cleaning all the key touchpoints.
Areas contaminated with bodily fluids such as blood, urine, vomit and human faeces will need specialist cleaning. This is because 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. When it comes to surface sanitisation and disinfection, there are many options and recommendations. Rentokil Initial shares more on some common myths of misconception pertaining to sanitisation and disinfection.
Manual methods are the first choice to disinfect surfaces. However, 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 on surfaces and in the air.
The droplets settle under, on top of and on the sides of many objects and inaccessible areas that may be difficult or not possible to reach when using conventional cleaning methods. Fogging also reaches a wider range of surfaces than manual cleaning, including textiles.
Rapid ULV fogging and disinfection allows the treatment of large areas in a short space of time to help to break the chain of infection quickly.
Rentokil Pest Control offers surface disinfection services as part of our pest control services to remove bacteria and viruses including the coronavirus, Influenza A, E. Coli and Staphylococcus. Some of the key features and benefits include:
- Water-based solvent that leaves no stains or odour after treatment
- Lasting up to 30 days effect of protection
- Effectively removes 99.99% of viruses and bacteria
- Applicable at various locations including sensitive premises
- Contains efficient antimicrobial effect
- Able to reside with regular cleaning activities
Disinfection and good sanitation is key
Personal hygiene and isolation are the front line of controlling the coronavirus pandemic to break the chain of infection. The virus can remain on surfaces up to several days, however, creating a risk to other people using buildings.
In addition, sanitation and cleanliness is well associated with pest infestation. An environment with poor hygiene and sanitisation standards might promote pest activity. For example:
- Pests such as rats and cockroaches feed on food waste and decomposed materials
- Trash bins and garbage without lids will attract flies, rats and cockroaches
- Grease, oil and grime is another favourite food source
- All pests require water to survive. In addition, they seek shelter to hide
- For ants, they seek sugary and sweet substance like cakes and drinks
Pests also carry pathogens such as bacteria, and spread harmful diseases. They include Salmonella, dysentery, typhoid fever and cholera to name a few. Particularly, food poisoning upon consuming unsafe food preparations due to poor hygiene and contamination. During COVID-19 and circuit breaker period, pest management with a commercial pest control is an essential service. This helps prevent subjecting individuals to more health risks. Above all, this helps in relieving some pressure among the hospitals who are working diligently taking care of the unwell and infected patients.
Engaging pest control company
Pest control is an ongoing process where protection and maintenance should be consistent without any lapses. Be it going through the COVID-19 and circuit breaker period or after the episode, pest control has a role to play in various environments and different scenarios. After the lifting of measures where businesses resume operations and services, pest control solutions are even more critical. Firstly, we should not pose any potential health and safety risks as we enter the recovery stage. Secondly, any unattended vacate may be packed with dirt, dust, bacteria and virus that is subjected to health risks. Thirdly, there is a compromised air quality due to poor air ventilation and circulation. Finally, all commercial practices aim to minimise any further unnecessary costs and expenses.
Call Rentokil Singapore at 6347 8138 for a disinfection and sanitisation services today.