As of this writing, more than 300,000 people have been infected with a new coronavirus. Officially named SARS-CoV-2, the virus originated in the capital city of China’s Hubei Province, Wuhan. The disease caused by this novel coronavirus has been named “coronavirus disease 2019” or COVID-19 and has since claimed more than 5,700 lives to date.

SARS-CoV-2, which stands for severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2, has reached more than 100 locations internationally, including New Zealand. This new coronavirus is related to the coronavirus that causes SARS or severe acute respiratory syndrome, which was identified in 2003.

COVID-19 can be mild to severe, being particularly deadly to the elderly, immune-compromised, and those with chronic medical conditions. It’s estimated that serious illness occurs in about 16 per cent of the cases, with an average of 5 to 6 days before the symptoms develop. This incubation period can last up to 14 days, however, and not all COVID-19 cases develop any or all symptoms. The recovery period is about 2 weeks for mild cases and 3 to 6 weeks for severe cases.

How COVID-19 spreads

The novel coronavirus is suspected to have come from bats, although its immediate animal host is yet to be confirmed. However, what’s already determined is how the virus spreads: through respiratory droplets. These droplets can come from an infected person’s mouth or nose when they talk, cough, sneeze, or breathe heavily. Once airborne, the droplets fall onto the ground and land no farther than 1 metre from the source.

Should these respiratory droplets land on another person’s eyes, nose, or mouth, that person can get infected. The virus droplets can also be delivered to another person through a contaminated hand. In addition, people can also pick up COVID-19 droplets from contaminated surfaces. This method of transmission, however, does not seem to be a key player in the spread of the virus.

Coronavirus in schools?

All of these are to say that schools are prime venues for spreading viral infections. Students are in constant close contact with each other and their teachers in classrooms and offices. There are also several shared objects like books, as well as communal spaces like the cafeteria and restrooms. Apart from advising students and staff to stay home when sick, a great way to prevent the spread of viral infections such as COVID-19 is through general cleanliness and good hygiene.

In fact, experts emphasise that proper handwashing is the primary method to combat the disease. This is because this virus is surrounded by a halo of proteins, which can easily be permeated and destroyed by soap. Without its protective layer, the virus dies. Thus, cleaning the school premises is also critical in the fight against COVID-19. Here are some important things to remember to ensure effective cleaning in such a space.

Knowing the difference between cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitising

These three might sound like the same thing, but they are actually different processes. Cleaning is the physical removal of dirt and germs from a surface or object using soap and water. Disinfecting kills germs on surfaces or objects using chemicals. Sanitising, on the other hand, reduces the number of germs of surfaces to a level that is determined safe by public health standards. Sanitising can be achieved through either cleaning or disinfecting surfaces or objects.

In this case, simple cleaning can effectively kill the virus. In addition, while it cannot kill other microorganisms outright, cleaning can reduce the number of other germs present on the surface. Meanwhile, disinfecting something doesn’t necessarily mean it’s clean. Doing both, however, can help lower the risk of spreading germs, viruses, and other harmful pathogens.

Following standard procedures for cleaning and disinfecting

Make sure to follow the standard procedures for routine cleaning and disinfecting. Make sure to sanitise surfaces and objects that are often touched or passed around such as desks, doorknobs, computer keyboards, faucet handles, as well as books and learning materials. These surfaces and items may also be disinfected on a daily basis. Meanwhile, areas like bathrooms and showers should also be disinfected regularly.

For visibly dirty objects and surfaces, make sure to clean them immediately. You may need to either clean or clean and disinfect as the situation requires. For example, spilled food on the floor will only need cleaning. Body fluids like blood, however, will need both cleaning and disinfecting.

Follow usage instructions

The directions printed on the labels of cleaning and disinfecting products are there for a reason. Follow them. Make sure to clean first (remember to rinse thoroughly) before disinfecting. Check the label of the disinfectant if it’s rated and approved to kill the unwanted microorganisms.

You may also use a product that both removes and kills germs. However, this type of product usually has different instructions when used for cleaning and disinfecting. Follow these directions for the best results. If something can’t be washed or sprayed with a cleaner or disinfectant, there are disinfecting wipes that you can use. These are ideal for electronics, such as phones, tablets, and computers.

Establish a routine

There aren’t any conclusive studies as of the moment regarding how long COVID-19 can survive on surfaces. Experts believe, however, that it may share the same lifespan of other coronaviruses: about nine to 14 days. As such, you may want to establish routine cleaning and disinfecting around this schedule.

Moreover, it has been proven that simple hand-washing can slow the spread of COVID-19. Thus, there’s no need for industrial-strength cleaners and disinfectants or special processes like fumigation unless a centralised event arises. In turn, this means that there’s no need to close schools if it’s only for the purpose of cleaning and disinfecting. Moreover, there’s also a reduced risk of irritation, allergic reactions, and other side-effects.

Handle waste properly

When handling waste, make sure to wear gloves. This helps prevent any accidental contact with used tissues and other items that may otherwise cause contamination. You should also throw disposable cleaning items immediately. After emptying trash cans and touching waste, make sure to wash your hands properly.

If you need help in cleaning, disinfecting, and sanitising your school premises, get in touch with Crewcare. You can count on our 20+ years of experience in the industry to ensure that every nook and cranny is spotlessly clean and free from germs and viruses that can cause the spread of diseases.