COVID-19 is an absolutely new disease and so there is very little information on it. What is currently known about the coronavirus is that it is transmitted from person-to-person, from close contacts that is within about 6 feet and via respiratory droplets. So far there is no documentation about its transmission from surfaces but evidence does suggest that novel coronavirus may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces that are made from a variety of materials. The National Centre for Disease Control has stated that the time of survival and the conditions that affect the 2019-nCoV viability in the environment are currently unknown. However, studies that had assessed the environmental stability of other coronaviruses, like the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus (SARS-CoV) are estimated to survive several days in the environment. On the other hand, the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome-related coronavirus (MERS-CoV) survives on different surfaces for more than 48 hours at an average room temperature of 20°C.
Taking into consideration how other related viruses can survive on surfaces it becomes imperative to carry out thorough environmental cleaning, which is the proper cleaning of surfaces that are frequently touched in all workspaces. The World Health Organisation (WHO) advocates that safe water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) is essential in protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 outbreak. Therefore, regular cleaning, disinfecting and decontaminating surfaces in the workplace environment is a best practice measure that can prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the community. Cleaning offices, hotels, business spaces including food business premises and practicing good hygiene and sanitation at a heightened level can prevent the spread of this very infectious virus.
There may be no evidence so far on the effectiveness of cleaning agents against COVID-19 it is seen as sufficient to use disinfectants, as tests carried out on SARS-CoV showed that sodium hypochlorite is quite effective. Both the Centres for Diseases Control and Prevention (CDC) and the WHO recommend the use of liquid household bleach solution as one of the ways to disinfect areas which could be contaminated with the novel coronavirus. This disinfectant solution is made using household bleach which must contain 3% to 6% sodium hypochlorite. Depending on how much percentage of hypochlorite a particular household bleach contains you can make an effective disinfectant solution in the following ways:
|Liquid Bleach Type||Amount of Bleach|
Amount of Cool Tap Water
|2% Sodium Hypochlorite Active Ingredient||3 teaspoons||1 cup|
|3% Sodium Hypochlorite Active Ingredient||2 teaspoons||1 cup|
|4% Sodium Hypochlorite Active Ingredient||1 1/2 teaspoons||1 cup|
|5% Sodium Hypochlorite Active Ingredient||1 1/4 teaspoons||1 cup|
|6-7% Sodium Hypochlorite Active Ingredient||1 teaspoon||1 cup|
|8-10% Sodium Hypochlorite Active Ingredient||3/4 teaspoon||1 cup|
The table is designed to make a 0.12% sodium hypochlorite bleach solution based on CDC recommended 1:48 dilution of 6% sodium hypochlorite bleach
Do not forget to wear gloves when making the solution and also when applying the solution to disinfect surfaces, countertops, doorknobs, switches etc. To be effective the solution must remain on the surfaces for at least 5 minutes before wiping off. It is also a good idea to use disposable wipes or tissue paper to wipe down with disinfectant.This disinfectant solution can be applied to all workspaces, marketplaces, as well as schools, hostels, hotels, food manufacturing units and even health care facilities.
While there is a shutdown of hotels and restaurants to prevent crowding, but food take-aways and home delivery are continuing. If you are in the food service business then it is advisable to take all precautions to avoid any transmission of COVID-19 through surface contact. Make sure there is frequent washing and sanitizing of all food contact surfaces as well as utensils in your establishments. As a responsible food business owner, you can understand the need to adhere strictly to good hygiene practices.
Frequent and proper hand hygiene is one of the most important measures that can prevent the spread. Workers should be provided with hand sanitizers and soap and water to ensure there is no spread from hands to surfaces and then to the community. While emphasis on improving hand hygiene of workers is important it is equally important to carry out regular disinfection of all surfaces that can be infected with hand touching. Cleaning and disinfecting those areas that are touched by customers like door knobs, door handles, switches, taps, toilet flush levers and the restroom sinks to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus.
While the outbreak persists, there must be an increase in the frequency of cleaning with disinfectant solution to prevent the spread of coronavirus in the community. Food handlers and workers also must practice frequent hand washing and wear gloves all the time. The gloves must be changed before and after food preparation. All food preparation areas, and food contact surfaces and countertops, cooking utensils must be sanitised according to the correct procedures. If the restaurants or food establishments are open then either discard menus or disinfect them thoroughly. It is also advisable to keep a close check on the health of the workers.
Workers must be aware and well trained in carrying out the cleaning and disinfecting procedures. The following cleaning procedures can help to disinfect all work space environments.
- Floors must be mopped daily, twice a day with detergent and hot water and then disinfected with sodium hypochlorite. Use three buckets, one with plain water and one with detergent solution and one bucket for sodium hypochlorite. The procedure is to first clean with warm water and detergent, then clean the mop in a plain water bucket before proceeding to the next area. The sodium hypochlorite solution must be used after the floor has dried.
- Ceilings and walls must be cleaned with detergent and plain water using a cloth or sponge. On the other hand, doors and door knobs railings, must be cleaned with a damp cloth or sponge with detergent and hot water and disinfected with household bleach solution containing sodium hypochlorite in percentages given above.
- Using warm water and detergent, damp dust all furniture and fittings, including chairs, stools, tables, lockers, trolleys, benches, shelves and storage racks, waste/ bins, fire extinguishers and then dry them properly.
- All switches must be cleaned till free of dust, spots and finger marks.
- The refrigerator must be cleaned out weekly with detergent and warm water using a clean cleaning cloth or kitchen paper wipes. Empty the fridge and store things appropriately and then defrost and clean with detergent. Dry it properly before placing back the foods
- Clean the sinks in the pantry with powder cleaners or detergent powder. Wet the sink and then sprinkle a little powder cleanser and work around the surface with a cloth, including the plughole, after thorough scrubbing rinse with water.
- Clean the telephone with warm water and detergent solution (using a cloth or sponge) especially the mouthpiece must be disinfected and then dry the phone properly.
- Water jugs must be scrubbed and cleaned with vim and boiled water before filling with drinking water.
National Centre for Disease Control – Guidelines for disinfection of quarantine facility (for COVID-19)