In Australia like across much of the world, governments are grappling with how soon their local economies can start back up? While many scientists and doctors show considerable concern about exit strategies that are too fast - it is understood that quarantine can't last forever. These are weighty decisions, since easing social distancing restrictions will undoubtedly lead to unwanted infections and loss of life. In fact, the Chief Scientist at the WHO had the following to say about this.
And it could get worse according to Dr. Swaminathan
In this week's Livestream I want to discuss one important aspect of infection control that will be important as the exit strategy gets underway. The role of transmission and how personal responsibility about hand hygiene along with care in the built environment can contribute towards better public health outcomes. What I mean by this is that the role of cleaning personnel cannot be underestimated. The reasons for this include the fact that the coronavirus can be transmitted via droplets and they can settle out onto surfaces. This means the surfaces can then serve as potential infection transfer points. It should be noted that there is lots of emerging academic research on this topic. One important issue to mention is the 'reaction competence' of the virus. In mots of the studies on fomites (potential surface spread from objects), the key issue is whether the coronavirus shows reaction competence - this is the ability to go on and cause new coronavirus infections in a suitable host.
Businesses across Australia are being called on to get ready to re-open...and to implement steps to create a COVID safe workplace. But what exactly does this mean. This week I discuss how you can use simple fluorescent brighteners to check up on your cleaners. These also allow you to demonstrate how the surfaces we touch easily allow germs (and the SARS-CoV-2 virus) to be spread from surface to surface or onto our skin and sensitive mucous membranes. You can even use a fluorescent highlighter to go around and mark out high-touch surfaces and then. Using a UV torch or lamp, go back AFTER cleaning and see if the area where you put the mark fluoresces? If it does, then the cleaning is not likely to have been very good and steps should be taken to educate the cleaners, change policies and monitor the cleaning process. Whilst this might seem trivial, it's actually the attention to cleaning like this that will help minimise the spread of this virus throughout the built environment.
Earlier this week I also spoke with Sam Cucchiara from A Current Affair on this topic and he showed how easy it was to simulate the transfer from potentially contaminated packaging onto other surfaces or even onto his face. This segment highlighted the potential dangers of SARS-Co-V2 in the workplace and was a follow up to the COVID-19 cluster at a Melbourne McDonald's restaurant.
Melbourne McDonald's remains open despite being at the centre of a COVID-19 cluster. A Current Affair, 14/05/20
Jones, C.L. (2020). Environmental Surface Contamination with SARS-CoV-2 - A Short Review. Journal of Human Virology & Retrovirology. 8(1): 15-19.