Environmental cleaning and disinfection are crucial to the prevention and control of Covid 19.
Pathogens can easily be shed from infected people.
Research shows that contaminated surfaces play an important role in the person-to- person transmission of Coronavirus. The degree of person-to-person transmission has in fact been found to be directly proportional to the level of environmental contamination.
There is evidence that airborne transmission also plays an important role in the person-to-person transmission of Coronavirus.
While manual cleaning is a key step in infection prevention and control, there is the risk of the disinfectant solution being contaminated with Coronavirus during the cleaning process and then being spread to clean areas.
So how do you eliminate the risk of Coronavirus spreading and ensure a safe environment for people?
Decontamination for infection control
Decontamination is a series of processes that effectively remove or destroy Coronavirus or other contaminants (e.g. organic matter) to prevent the spread of infection.
The three processes are:
- Enhanced cleaning
The first stage of decontamination is cleaning – or in other words, the physical removal of dirt, dust, and soil from surfaces. In most environments this process will be performed daily and will usually involve a combination of water, detergent, cloths, and mops. Cleaning may be either manual or automated.
How successful the cleaning is in terms of reducing microbial contamination depends on various factors including:
- The effectiveness of the cleaning process
- The amount of bioburden from environmental surfaces.
Enhanced cleaning refers to methods used in addition to standard cleaning and is carried out in response to a specific infection prevention and control requirement. This process may involve increased frequency of cleaning, either for all surfaces or of those that are frequently touched, or it may involve the use of additional cleaning equipment or disinfectants. It is routinely undertaken at the point where a person who has been known to be
infected with Coronavirus. In the case of an outbreak of Coronavirus enhanced cleaning may be required.
Manual disinfection can help to reduce the number of viable infectious agents in the environment, but it is not always sufficient on its own to inactive certain microbes, such as viruses and spores. In some cases, the use of a specific concentration of a chemical agent may be required.
The use of specialist automated technologies
The addition of enhanced cleaning and chemical disinfection has been proven to be successful in reducing the spread of infection.
However, research has also shown that when disinfection is undertaken manually, it is only ever partially effective – only 50% of surfaces are adequately decontaminated with the use of chemical disinfection. The issue is that manual cleaning and disinfection relies on the operator to consistently ensure adequate selection, formulation, distribution time and contact time of the agents used.
Specialist automated technologies, such as the use of Hydrogen Peroxide Vapour can play a vital role in supporting the efficacy of manual cleaning practices. These technologies can never replace manual cleaning, as this needs to be undertaken first to remove any soil, but they provide a highly effective and robust supplement to manual cleaning. The cleanliness of facilities is vital in eliminating Coronavirus from surfaces and the environmental air. Best practice infection control will involve cleaning, enhanced cleaning, and disinfection, along with the use of specialist automated technologies. This four-pronged approach is the most effective way to protect people and staff from Coronavirus.