What is a Coronavirus? Is that the name of the virus in Wuhan? What can I do for my facilities team? All great questions. We have pulled together the information that is publicly available in the spirit of being a good corporate and community citizen. This isn’t an exhaustive approach or a recommended approach but some good information for you to know and think about as you put together your plans around this new potential health risk.
What are Coronaviruses?
Coronaviruses (CoV) are a broad family of viruses named after the crown-like spikes on their surface. This is an enveloped virus and there are disinfectants that kill enveloped virus.
They typically cause mild to moderate upper respiratory tract disease in humans, but can also cause more severe infections such as pneumonia and other lower respiratory tract infections.
Mild illness caused by CoV includes the common cold and influenza-like illness. Severe illness caused by CoV includes Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) CoV, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS)-CoV, and some pneumonias.
There are some coronaviruses that can be transmitted from animals to people. Both the SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV are believed to have originated in animals and were transmitted to people, causing infection.
There isn’t a name for the new CoV but it is being called Novel Coronavirus
(2019-nCov) for the moment.
What are the symptoms of Infection
For other coronaviruses, the incubation period is 2-5 days for the development of symptoms, suggesting people exposed to CoV may rapidly present symptoms of infection after exposure to the virus, but it may take up to a week to show symptoms.
The symptoms likely to present early in the illness are often seen in patients with more commonly occurring diseases, such as the common cold, and influenza-like illness, or even other CoV infections.
Diagnosis and treatment should only be performed by a trained physician who can rule out other potential diseases.
Most of those infected with the Wuhan Coronavirus develop a sudden fever with other flu-like symptoms. Many develop pneumonia, which is inflammation of the lung often involving a fluid buildup in the lung.
How does it get transmitted?
The Wuhan Coronavirus may be transmitted from animal sources, but the animals carrying the virus have not been identified to date. In the Wuhan outbreak, if the reservoir is animal(s), the mechanism of transmission to people appears to be inefficient or more people would have been infected in the current outbreak. For all animal carriers of the virus, the animals do not show symptoms of infection, so they are likely to otherwise appear normal.
Coronaviruses can live on environmental surfaces from a few hours to a few days, so surfaces in contact with the animals or other sick humans may carry the virus and cause human infection.
How do we take steps for prevention?
To prevent the spread of the human coronavirus, common high-touch surfaces, like doorknobs, light switches, tabletops, and phones should be disinfected using an EPA-registered product with coronavirus claims.
Wash hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Avoiding touching your face, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands.
Avoiding close contact with people who are sick
Cleaning and disinfecting surfaces that you frequently touch
Covering coughs and sneezes with a tissue. Then throw away the tissue and wash your hands.
Staying home when sick
The positive news
If you have a good cleaning program you are well on your way to hitting most of the points for prevention. Here are a few others that may help.
Use the best, most affordable disinfectant. The best products to use in a commercial environment are hydrogen peroxide-based disinfectants. The hydrogen peroxides provide the shortest kill time and the broadest kill claims and is EPA registered. There are EPA registered products with longer kill times that are less expensive. See the literature we have linked below on the Diversey products.
Use good hand hygiene practices. Make sure your employees know to wash their hands frequently with soap and water. 20 seconds is best and interestingly is the exact same time it takes to sing Happy Birthday to yourself.
Have hand sanitizer available for your employees. Yes, it is needed unfortunately because a lot of folks don’t wash their hands when they should… looking at you Jim in accounting! See the links below for information from Gojo, the makers of Purell, that will help you with hand care. Interestingly, the FDA doesn't allow hand sanitizer brands to make claims about efficacy against contracting viruses, such as any stating that Purell hand sanitizers are effective against the flu. Something Gojo is dealing with right now and is seen in the news this month. However, the agency noted that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends using alcohol-based hand sanitizer for flu prevention. Purell is made of ethyl alcohol.
Ensure that your frequency of cleaning meets the need. Often increasing the frequency that common touched surfaces are cleaned with disinfectants during the day will help during times of heightened focus on health.
Make disinfectant wipes available to your staff for self-cleaning of their common touched workspace. It helps with morale!
Make sure your cleaning team uses microfiber cloths and mops. Not only is disinfection important, removing gross soils, yes GROSS soils, is important to leave very little bio-matter on surfaces for the disinfectants to kill. Microfiber is AWESOME at this, much better than paper or cloth.
If you are concerned about Air Quality and potential air transmission there are UV-light emitting products for upper air spaces in rooms or in your HVAC systems that can help. While there isn’t any evidence about the airborne transmission right now nor the efficacy of these products against this type of coronavirus UV light is used for disinfection in some surgical suites. Best to talk to those manufacturers and get their claims and results.
Lastly, it is a difficult topic to discuss but it is better to be prepared with an Emergency Plan for an outbreak. It is best to work with your health team, your cleaning team and your management to craft that plan like you would a Disaster Response plan.
That is a lot of information but this is a concern for all of us. We are happy to share our thoughts further if you are a current customer or just interested in the topic. Be sure to look at the information on the links to the sites below and download the content we have gathered. And for perspective, so far 8,200 people have died and 140,000 people have been hospitalized during the 2019-2020 flu season, according to preliminary estimates from the CDC.