As we approach a looming crisis at a hurtling speed, it’s got many of us wondering what we should do in our homes and for our health during this pandemic.
I’ve asked a friend, Jessica Stokes-Parish, to help us out with some simple tips on how to look after the space our family dwells within. When it comes to information outside of my expertise, I believe in going straight to the experts to get evidence-based, practical information direct from the source — rather than just “winging it.” Jessica is passionate about providing evidence-based information to cut through the noise in health science. Now more than ever, we have access to an incredible amount of information, and lots of it is sensationalised misinformation — it’s hard to decipher fact from fiction. Jessica is certainly here to help set the record straight.
COVID-19 is a disease caused by the virus named SARS-CoV-19. This virus spreads via droplets – sneezing, coughing and even sometimes exhaling can cause those droplets to be shared either by human contact or on surfaces. Droplets can remain on surfaces for several days. Most studies demonstrate they last for around 4 days on hard surfaces like plastic and stainless steel.
The virus has an incubation period of up to 14 days – that means you could be sharing the disease for up to 14 days before symptoms appear.
Cleaning is an important prevention strategy for Covid-19 and this blog gives you some practical strategies to achieve that in your home.
In general, the cleaning strategy for Covid-19 is a two-step process: cleaning and disinfecting. This should be done on at least a daily basis (more frequently if possible) when someone in your household is unwell. Clean all high-touch areas (eg. doorknobs, counters, bathrooms, and fixtures, keyboards, phones, pens, bedside tables) wearing a mask and gloves.
The first step, cleaning, is specifically to, well, clean. This removes the soiling and dust, and anything visible. You should use soap and water, or a detergent – anything that soaps up.
The second step is to disinfect. The World Health Organisation recommends a bleach-based product (sodium hypochlorite 0.5%, diluted per manufacturer instructions) as the first line disinfectant. After this, the recommendation is an alcohol solution of at least 70%. The key here is that the disinfectant needs contact time to kill the virus.
There are some two-in-one products available that contain detergent and disinfectant (bleach), this is also suitable to use.
WHAT ABOUT TEXTILES ITEMS AROUND THE HOME?
The same principles apply, clean and disinfect. Clean your towels and sheets weekly on a hot wash cycle.
For textiles, use a hot, soapy water mix to clean, and then use a disinfectant suitable for the surface.
Clutter – To make things easier, reduce the clutter on your shelves and tables. By reducing clutter in your house, you reduce places for the droplets to land and make it easier to clean surfaces on a regular basis.
Household waste – Use a lined waste bin for all rubbish
Dishwashing – Use a dishwasher where possible
Note: While vinegar, bicarbonate soda and oils are good options for general cleaning and are shown to be effective in some settings, in this circumstance they are not sufficient to manage the transmission of the virus. To date, ethanol and bleach are proven methods. Similarly, while we know heat assists with the disinfecting process, the sun is probably not sufficient to kill the virus. Work with previous coronaviruses (eg. SARS) demonstrated high-heat was virucidal, but we have no knowledge of this in regards to Covid-19.
ABOUT Jessica Stokes-Parish
RN, GCC (ICU), MN (Adv. Prac.), PhD Candidate (Medicine)
Jessica is an Intensive Care Nurse and researcher. She is an experienced educator and communicator and is working on the frontline during this pandemic. She is part of the planning teams to protect and prepare staff and will be deployed to work with patients once the demand is there.
Disclaimer: This information is accurate at time of writing (22/03/20). Information is changing frequently and may mean this information above becomes obsolete. Check the who.int website or your local government recommendations for evidence-based, up to date advice.