Hygiene prevention and measures in case of infection with SARS-CoV-2 / Covid-19
Effective hygiene measures for a sustainable life
SARS-CoV-2 has once again demonstrated to our society and the entire world population that a sustainable life is not possible without effective hygiene measures. The Greeks already described the "art of health" with the word ὑγιεινή [τέχνη] hygieinḗ.
Of course, hygiene still requires trained specialists who can differentiate effective and necessary measures from pure actionism and implement these measures in a qualified manner. The current global situation also shows us that uncoordinated hygiene measures are only partially successful and represent an infrastructural threat to our social and economic life.
In short: effective and efficient health protection requires a central body that understands, evaluates and implements the various areas of hygiene accordingly. In order to mitigate future epidemic and pandemic progressions, early, thorough, qualified and continuous prevention is essential. Many companies are facing new challenges with this risk of infection by the virus. Nobody can predict what consequences will result from this new situation.
We would like to provide you with a guideline for the correct procedure for hygiene prevention, but also for confirmed cases:
A distinction must be made here between the following scenarios:
1. An interruption of operation is not possible or must be avoided
In this case, the affected premises may require cleaning and disinfection of the entire production area or offices. Even thorough cleaning by state-approved disinfectors reduces the germ load by 99.99%. With the subsequent disinfection, the transmission of disease by any viruses can be virtually eliminated, as the germ load has been reduced by a further four log levels. Here it is important to ensure that cleaning and subsequent disinfection is carried out by a state-certified disinfector, as this is the only way to ensure that services are provided properly in accordance with the current rules of technology.
2. The operation is suspended for several weeks and will be resumed afterwards
The "lifespan" of viruses, and in particular of SARS-CoV-2, is currently a much-discussed topic on which there are currently still different views. Meta-studies of the University of Greifswald showed that SARS-CoV-1 and MERS corona viruses can survive up to 9 days on surfaces. Recent studies published in the New England Journal of Medicine Study showed that viruses can "survive" up to 72 hours on a plastic surface. The word "live" should be critically questioned here, as a virus without a host cell does not have its own metabolism and is therefore not a living being per se. However, it is important to mention here that after 72 hours the amount of virus was only 0.1% of the amount inoculated. A transmission would thus be possible, but relatively unlikely. If your operation has been discontinued for several weeks, we recommend only a basic cleaning before starting operation to absorb any protein and RNA residues of the virus.
In general, but especially with regard to ventilation and air-conditioning technology, disinfection is to be considered a separate and distinct service. The project planning, the choice of the right disinfectants and the conscientious, prior cleaning of the surfaces to be disinfected are some of the points that make for a sensible and effective disinfection.
The disinfection of a ventilation system / room air conditioning system (RLT system) with regard to the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 is basically only useful if:
- the exhaust air has contact points with the supply air. This is the case, for example, with air handling units / ventilation systems that are equipped with rotary heat exchangers.
- the ventilation system has the option of recirculation operation. In this case, a part of the exhaust air is added to the supply air in order to reduce heating costs. In this case, the exhaust air duct and the area of the recirculation damper fall within the scope of VDI 6022 and must be in an uncompromisingly hygienic condition.
- Secondary air units which only draw in, process and return the room air (air conditioners, air washers, air purifiers, etc.) must also be disinfected in suspicious cases and/or for preventive measures.
Correct disinfectant for suspected corona
The choice of the correct disinfectant is the basis of effective disinfection. The disinfector must pay attention to the suspected microbiological contamination and adjust the disinfectant accordingly. If the wrong disinfectant is used, all measures are pointless. In the course of our disinfection procedures, we only use agents which can demonstrably render the coronavirus inactive.
ATTENTION: Viruses are not detectable by means of the usual contact samples or within the scope of a VDI 6022 hygiene inspection! According to the latest findings, the corona virus SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 is still active on certain surfaces for up to nine days. (Investigations by the universities of Greifswald and the Ruhr University of Bochum had shown in February that the novel coronavirus could survive for up to nine days on surfaces made of metal, glass or plastic). Our tested disinfectors not only guarantee complete compliance with the provisions of the VDI 6022 guideline, but also ensure that a possible spread of the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19 cannot take place via the ventilation system / room air conditioning system.
Sensibility of disinfecting ventilation systems
The disinfection of your ventilation system / room air conditioning system should not only take place after a suspicious case, but at best preventively. Suitable disinfection measures in ventilation systems ensure that no pathogenic impurities are present.
International flows of goods and people have become an integral part of our global world. In addition to all the positive aspects, however, these flows also entail an increased risk in the development of epidemics or pandemics. Pathogens such as the Influenza A virus H5N1 ("bird flu"), the Influenza A H1N1 virus ("swine flu"), SARS-CoV, MERS-CoV or COVID-19 ("coronavirus") have highlighted the impact that an epidemic and pandemic can have on our economy and daily life. Companies, governmental and public institutions can reduce the personal consequences of such an outbreak by implementing a profound and comprehensive epidemic and pandemic management. Such a plan should include
- Analysis of internal structures
- Determination of required resources
- Measures to prepare for an epidemic and pandemic phase
- Development of an information policy during an epidemic and pandemic phase
- Information and training for employees
- Creation of hygiene and flow charts
The agreed initial restrictions and the large-scale establishment of home office workplaces are already showing the first positive effects in terms of the spread of the virus. At the same time, however, these measures also mean that, due to the reduced number of users or the complete closure of buildings, water pipes are being used much less or not at all - a state of affairs that is highly problematic from a hygienic point of view.
1) Favourable environment for the growth of pathogens such as Legionella or E.coli.
Due to the stagnant, stagnant water, the above mentioned pathogens find perfect starting conditions for their growth. On the one hand, poorly insulated pipes running close to each other can cause the cold water to heat up, and on the other hand rusty, calcified or biofilm-covered pipes can promote the growth of the pathogens. Possible illnesses caused by legionella can be legionellosis or gastrointestinal complaints with E.coli pathogens.
2) Formation of butterflies
Butterfly mosquitoes (also known as abort flies) like to stay near stagnant or polluted water. For reproduction, the mosquito lays its eggs near small, dirty and shallow accumulations of water. These accumulations of water can be, for example, drains, standing water pipes or drains. Although butterfly mosquitoes cannot bite and thus transmit diseases, their body can transmit pathogens to food etc. and thus become problematic from a hygienic point of view.
To prevent this problem, the following is currently recommended:
- Rinse all pipes with hot water for several minutes at least every 72 hours (open windows and leave the room due to possible contaminated aerosols)
- Use and installation of special flushing devices (so-called "legionella circuit")
- Checking the drinking water quality with a drinking water analysis before commissioning
The regulations adopted by the Federal Government and the Länder on the opening of shops for stationary sole proprietorships and small businesses up to 800 square metres are the first steps towards easing the initial restrictions. However, these require appropriate caution and a good hygiene concept.
For the professional and consistent implementation of your hygiene measures in the areas
- Industrial Hygiene
- Staff requirements
- Admission to sales rooms
- Behaviour of staff and customers in salesrooms
- Cleaning and disinfection
- garbage disposal
We would like to support you with our "Hygiene plan for small businesses". We have also provided you with an exemplary cleaning and disinfection plan and instructions for "proper hand washing".
Should you have any further explicit questions on this topic, please do not hesitate to contact our contact persons, who are listed below with their contact details.