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Our procedures for dealing with COVID-19. Decontamination in non-healthcare settings:
Principles of environmental decontamination after the case has left the setting or area.
Personal protective equipment (PPE)
The minimum PPE required to be worn for decontaminating an area where a possible or confirmed case has been includes disposable gloves and apron. Hands should be washed with soap and water after all PPE has been removed.
If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of contamination may be present (for example where unwell individuals have slept such as a hotel room or boarding school dormitory) or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE such as a surgical facemask and full-face visor should be considered. The local Health Protection Team can advise on this.
Most other settings where the person has spent shorter periods of time (such as a waiting room, cinema, restaurants, gyms) are likely to have lower levels of contamination and therefore the risk of onward transmission of infection will be lower.
Cleaning and disinfection
Public areas where a symptomatic individual has passed through and spent minimal time in (such as corridors) but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned as directed by any existing workplace risk assessment or manufacturer's instructions on the safe use of their cleaning products. All surfaces that the symptomatic person has come into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:
- • Objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids
- • All potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells
Use disposable cloths or paper roll and disposable mop heads, to clean and disinfect all hard surfaces or floor or chairs or door handles and sanitary fittings in the room, following one of the two options below:
- • use either a combined detergent disinfectant solution at a dilution of 1000 parts per million available chlorine or
- • a household detergent followed by disinfection (1000 ppm av.cl.).
- Follow manufacturer's instructions for dilution, application and contact times for all detergents and disinfectants or
- • if an alternative disinfectant is used within the organisation, this should be checked and ensure that it is effective against enveloped viruses
Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning. Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into the waste bags as outlined below.
When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning may be used.
Spillages of blood and body fluids should be managed in accordance with the organisations spillage policy, before cleaning and disinfection. If any items are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be appropriately cleaned, consider discarding. Gain permission to do this from the owner.
If an area can be kept closed and secure for 72 hours, wait until this time for cleaning, as the amount of virus contamination will have decreased significantly. The area can then be cleaned as directed by any existing workplace risk assessment or manufacturer's instructions on the safe use of their cleaning products.
Items heavily soiled with body fluids should be disposed of. Gain the permission of the owner to do this.
Remove any clothes, soft or fabric window hangings and curtains, bedding and any other laundry items and place in a bag for transportation to the point of laundering. Do not shake items or avoid all necessary agitation.
Store the used lined put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage until the individual's test results are known. If the individual test result is negative, usual laundering processes can be followed.
If the individual test result is positive:
- • wash items on the hottest temperature setting the fabric will tolerate
- • gloves and apron should be used when loading laundry into a machine.
Laundry bag to disposed of as per waste management guidance outlined below
Waste from possible cases and cleaning of areas where possible cases have been (including disposable cloths, tissues, and masks if worn) should be put in a plastic rubbish bag and tied when full. The plastic bag should then be placed in a second bin bag and tied. It should be put in a suitable and secure place and marked for storage until the individual's test results are known. Children, pets, pests etc. should not be able to access this place. Waste should NOT be left unsupervised on the pavement awaiting collection.
If the individual test is negative, this can be put in with the normal waste.
If the individual tests positive, then place bags in orange or yellow container or bags and arrange disposal as Category B waste. Contact your local Environmental Health Department or Health Protection Team for further information. In Northern Ireland, please contact your Public Health Agency Health Protection Team.
Arrangements need to be made for collection by an appropriate organisation (for example a licenced waste contractor acting on behalf of the Local Authority).
Follow up of persons involved in environmental decontamination
The names and contact details of those carrying out cleaning of an area that a possible case has been in should be recorded by the person responsible for this setting. As part of the contact tracing process for a confirmed case, the local Health Protection Team will advise on arrangements for follow up required for 14 days after the cleaning process took place.