Coronavirus (COVID-19): Information and Guidance for Enviroserve staff and clients
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called Coronavirus. Symptoms of Coronavirus (COVID-19) are a cough, a high temperature and shortness of breath. Simple measures like washing your hands often with soap and water can help stop viruses like Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreading. There’s no specific treatment for Coronavirus (COVID-19) as yet. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms until you recover. It’s not known exactly how Coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads from person to person, but similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.
Nevertheless, appropriate measures must be in place to safeguard our workers safety and prevent further infection from spreading.
What you need to know
- cleaning an area with normal commercial disinfectant after someone with suspected Coronavirus (COVID-19) has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people
- if an area can be kept closed and secure for 72 hours, wait until this time has passed for cleaning as the amount of virus living on surfaces will have reduced significantly by 72 hours
- wherever possible, wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning. These should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished
- using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles
- if an area has been heavily contaminated, such as with visible bodily fluids, from a person with Coronavirus (COVID-19), consider using protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron
- wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, and after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning
Experience of new Coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV) has been used to inform this guidance. The risk of infection depends on many factors, including:
- the type of surfaces contaminated
- the amount of virus shed from the individual
- the time the individual spent in the setting
- the time since the individual was last in the setting
The infection risk from Coronavirus (COVID-19) following contamination of the environment decreases over time. It is not yet clear at what point there is no risk. However, studies of other viruses in the same family suggest that, in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours.
Principles of cleaning after the case has left the setting or area
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The minimum PPE to be worn for cleaning an area where a person with possible or confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19) is disposable gloves and an apron. Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds after all PPE has been removed.
If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of virus may be present (for example, where unwell individuals have slept such as a hotel room or boarding school dormitory) or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE to protect the cleaner’s eyes, mouth and nose might be necessary. The local Public Health England (PHE) Health Protection Team (HPT) can advise on this.
Cleaning and disinfection
Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.
All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:
- objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
- all potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells
Use disposable cloths or paper roll and disposable mop heads, to clean all hard surfaces, floors, chairs, door handles and sanitary fittings, following one of the options below:
- use either a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1,000 parts per million available chlorine
- a household detergent followed by disinfection (1000 ppm av.cl.). Follow manufacturer’s instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants
- If an alternative disinfectant is used within the organisation, this should be checked and ensure that it is effective against enveloped viruses
- After cleaning, surfaces will be sanitised using a product that meets the requirements of BS EN 1276. This might be Jangro Virucide or Selden Selgiene – detailed usage instructions and COSHH information will be available for whichever product is provided.
- If Jangro Virucide or Selden Selgiene are in short supply and suitable alternatives cannot be sourced, our fall-back position will be to rely on chlorine-based sanitisers
- Cleaning will be done using ‘Spray & Wipe’ which means applying a light and even mist of spray onto the surface being cleaned, waiting for the recommended dwell time and then wiping.
- Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning.
- Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined below.
- When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.
- Any items that are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be cleaned by washing should be disposed of.
- If possible keep an area closed off and secure for 72 hours. After this time the amount of virus contamination will have decreased substantially and you can clean as normal with your usual products.
- Hands should be thoroughly washed and dried before then putting on rubber gloves
- Once gloves have been applied, hands should be washed and dried again before any cleaning is done.
- A polythene, disposable apron should be applied and eye protection must be worn.
- Surfaces will initially be cleaned in the normal manner using Hard Surface Cleaner and a bio-wipe cloth.
- In most circumstances, wiping will be done with paper (rather than cloths) which should be put straight into polythene bags after use.
- Once cleaning is finished, close all polythene bags (containing your used paper wipes) by tying. Double-bag in another polythene bag and tie again. Mark the waste bag for storage pending the outcome of COVID-19 tests on the person suspected of having the infection.
- Clean and sanitise any equipment you have been using (buckets, mop-buckets, etc.) and dispose of any used mop-heads in polythene bags.
- Remove your polythene apron and gloves and dispose of both in another polythene bag, tie this, double-bag it and tie again. Mark this for storage as with other waste.
- Wash your hands thoroughly.
Wash items in accordance with the manufacturer’s instructions. Use the warmest water setting and dry items completely. Dirty laundry that has been in contact with an unwell person can be washed with other people’s items.
Do not shake dirty laundry, this minimises the possibility of dispersing virus through the air.
Clean and disinfect anything used for transporting laundry with your usual products, in line with the cleaning guidance above.
Waste from possible cases and cleaning of areas where possible cases have been (including disposable cloths and tissues):
- Should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full.
- The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied.
- It should be put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage until the individual’s test results are known.
Waste should be stored safely and kept away from children. You should not put your waste in communal waste areas until negative test results are known or the waste has been stored for at least 72 hours.
- if the individual tests negative, this can be put in with the normal waste
- if the individual tests positive, then store it for at least 72 hours and put in with the normal waste
If storage for at least 72 hours is not appropriate, arrange for collection as a Category B infectious waste either by your local waste collection authority if they currently collect your waste or otherwise by a specialist clinical waste contractor. They will supply you with orange clinical waste bags for you to place your bags into so the waste can be sent for appropriate treatment.
What to do if you think you have Coronavirus (Covid-19)
The symptoms are:
- a cough
- shortness of breath
- high temperature
Remember that these symptoms are quite similar to other illnesses which are more common, such as common cold and flu. Use NHS 111 in emergencies or their online service that can tell you if you need medical help and advise on what to do if;
- You think you have Coronavirus
- You’ve been in close contact with someone with confirmed Coronavirus (COVID-19)
- In the last 14 days you’ve been to a country with a high risk of Coronavirus – see NHS Coronavirus Advice For Travellers
The source of our information and guidance on all aspects relating to Coronavirus COVID-19 is the official government website
How to stop infection spreading
There are things you can do to help reduce the risk of you and anyone you live with getting ill with Coronavirus.
- Do – wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds
- Do – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
- Do – wash your hands as soon as you get back home
- Do – cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
- Do – put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards
- Don’t – touch your eyes, nose or mouth if your hands are not clean