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Infection Control News

Novel Coronavirus or Covid-19, as it is now known, has started to move in to North America. We have a new positive case in New York City. People are being evacuated from China and are currently being sent to designated quarantine facilities on military bases throughout North America. Quarantine is often used as a means when such an event happens where the epidemiology supports a high level of infectability from direct contact between humans or humans and animals. This is why quarantine is set up during such events. The enveloped virus does not generally survive very long without a host. If you quarantine to limit its ability to host, you gain control and community immunity is built. You just hope people do build immunity or a vaccine becomes available. So far, this virus has severe impact mainly to individuals who are compromised immune systems or have underlying health issues.

coronavirus

The real opportunity or exposure risk remains with those who are in direct contact with people or body fluids with significant viral loads. Remember, it only took one viral particle of Ebola to cause an active infection. The highest exposure risk is primarily in Biological Containment wards where they have symptomatic patients in isolation; The other would primarily be in Quarantine operations themselves.

The psychological impact to the global community is a huge “hot button” for marketing opportunities and a wave of misinformation. There is a good article in the NY Times that describes this to a tee. The article quotes ” Alarming, but a much more common illness, influenza, kills about 400,000 people every year, including 34,200 Americans last flu season and 61,099 the year before.” The issue is that there are still a lot of unknowns regarding the virulence of this particular coronavirus.

Infection Control Technologies (ICT) can be available to disinfect for purposes of mitigation of public perception yet keep in mind that, clinically, our actions may have little impact on respiratory virus outbreak that primarily supports human-to-human transfer. Please keep in mind that for Emergency Response regarding Biological events, that personnel responding must be trained according to OSHA 1910.1030 Blood Borne Pathogens Standard and OSHA 1910.120 Hazardous Waste Operations and Emergency Response at a minimum; ICT has personnel that are trained in both and have been Certified by the American Bio Recovery Association.

There are interesting studies on a wide variety of enveloped viruses and their overall infectability from environmental surfaces. The environmental significance of such viruses remains low as virulence and viral load generally drops dramatically once it is in the environment outside of body fluids. It is said that a viral particle of coronavirus can stay active on a surface from two hrs to nine-days, but CDC says that it is not a likely source of transmission. It is better to be safe than sorry and treat it as “guilty until proven innocent” by science. Keep in mind that Proper Cleaning and then Disinfection on high traffic touch points will only be good until the next asymptomatic or symptomatic person cross-contaminates it again. This is, again, why we quarantine. Here is a good article on the environmental significance of enveloped viruses published from PBS that describes this well. Stay diligent and educated during events like these.

If you are in a position or opportunity to respond to such emergency actions, mitigate according to the EPA label of the registered virucide you are employing. Stay safe out there folks. Wash your hands!

Thomas Licker, CEICR, CBRM
ABRA Certified Bio Recovery Master
ACAC Certified Environmental Infection Control Remediator

Infection Control Technologies, (ICT) a division of Insurance Restoration Specialists, Inc. (IRS) is one of the nation’s leading Building Hygiene contractors. ICT provides Facility Hygiene Services and Emergency Decontamination for some of the nation’s most respected real estate and Risk Management Professionals, Health Care, Municipalities, Institutions, Food Safety, Transportation, and government organizations.