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The role of surface and hand hygiene in keeping communal areas safe
The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the challenges of communal spaces in the context of the transmission of infectious diseases.
Co-workers often spend long period of time in close proximity, usually with limited access to hand and surface hygiene materials.
Even before the pandemic, there was convincing evidence that we needed to do more to keep communal spaces free from transmissible infectious diseases. Even more so now given the reports of Covid-19 outbreaks in communal workplaces! This is an overview of the evidence that hand and surface hygiene interventions can help to keep people safe from transmissible infectious diseases.
Contaminated hands and surfaces can spread infectious diseases (including the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19) in communal settings. Most of us have experienced this - the person sitting next to you has a cold, and the next thing you know, you're reaching for the tissues!
Several studies have shown that improving hygiene in shared spaces reduced the risk of spreading transmissible diseases. Some of these studies have used bacteriophage markers. These small micro-organisms are viruses that infect bacteria but are harmless to humans and can be used to model the spread of viruses. One study showed that a surface and hand hygiene intervention reduced the level of bacteriophage contamination of surfaces and staff hands in a shared office by 85%.
A follow-up study used mathematical modelling to explore infection transmission risk. This study concluded that surface disinfection also resulted in an infection risk reduction of 15% for rotavirus, 16% for rhinovirus and 33% for influenza, and that surface and hand hygiene combined resulted in an infection risk reduction of 59% for rotavirus, 61% for rhinovirus, and 88% for influenza.
We know that communal spaces pose significant risk for Covid-19, hence the stay at home order in the UK and elsewhere in the world to help manage the pandemic. We also know that perceptions of safety are a vital part of reopening. Some Canadian research shows that employers need to take additional steps to ensure that staff feel safe enough to come back into communal offices, and this is also true for reopening hospitality settings. A key part of providing a safe space is to ensure that hand and surface hygiene products are made available throughout, where they are accessible and can be used conveniently. The use of alcohol gel and disinfectant wipes are the most effective way to achieve this.
GAMA Healthcare, infection prevention specialist and manufacturer of Clinell, the disinfectant wipe used by the NHS, has made its products available to businesses and consumers over the last year.
"We've recognised the importance of more infection prevention awareness outside healthcare," explains Toby Lanaway, corporate business manager at GAMA, "And we know how important this is to keep customers, employees and families safe."
22nd July 2021