Public Health England’s (PHE) advice to primary care services on Wuhan novel coronavirus (WN-CoV) has been updated with guidance on environmental cleaning following a possible case. Whether that will work, or indeed whether it will happen at all, this does raise issues for those responsible for cleaners, and for the clinical waste disposal sector.
We know that those working in this sector can be and too often are exposed to splash and spray from clinical waste sacks. This includes blood and bloodstained fluids but inevitably aerosols of other potentially hazardous materials. Given that gloves should be worn at all times, but not infrequently are not, and that glove and hand hygiene are woefully inadequate, there is now a heightened risk that infection mat be transmitted by this unexpected route.
No need for panic, but managers must be awake to these risks and manage worker hygiene issues with care, to ensure training and supervision, with periodic reinforcement of training, for all staff.
Ample supplies of gloves must be available to all staff, together with hand hygiene solutions comprising sinks with soap, water and towels, large size hand wipes for mobile use, and alcohol hand gel. Remember however, that alcohol hand gel has little if any activity on dirty hands, and these must be cleansed with a large wet wipe before alcohol is applied.