On the 11th of March 2020, Dr Zwelini Mkhize, South Africa’s Minister of Health, confirmed that South Africa has 13 confirmed cases of the COVID-19 virus and that 645 tests have been conducted. Although South Africa ranks low on the list of impacted countries it is important that we continue to educate ourselves about the virus as well as ways to minimise our risk of contracting it.
As the experts in hygiene, Initial’s focus has been on the latter and we have invested time into educating our colleagues and customers. If you missed it, we recently published a post on our blog titled, What the Coronavirus outbreak means for you? where you can find out more about:
- How is COVID-19 transmitted and how contagious it is
- Symptoms of COVID-19
- Advised special precautions
- Guidance on effective hand washing methods
I would like to pause on the topic of handwashing as good handwashing practices - with soap and water - are still the number one way to prevent infectious diseases, as recommended by the WHO. Soap works better than anything else to destroy the structure of viruses because it dissolves the fatty membrane holding the virus together. Thus the virus falls apart and becomes inactive. Alcohol-based products such as hand sanitiser are a good alternative when soap and water are not readily available, but should not be seen as replacing good handwashing practices.
Learn more about the science of soap:
What else can we do to keep our environments healthy?
- Wash your hands at regular intervals like before and after meals and after going to the bathroom.
- Use hand sanitiser in between hand washing to further promote infection control.
- Ensure regular, thorough anti-bacterial cleaning takes place in communal areas, such as the kitchen and reception. Tabletops, surfaces and storage shelves should be cleaned regularly using anti-bacterial surface wipes.
- Avoid touching your mouth, nose or eyes with unwashed hands - always wash your hands and follow the recommended steps before eating.
- If you are feeling ill, whether you have cold symptoms or flu symptoms, rather consult a health care professional and stay at home to ensure you don’t contribute to cross-contamination in your working environment. (Presinteeism costs the economy billions after all).
- Sneeze or cough into your elbow.
- Review your hygiene control arrangements in areas of potentially heightened risk and high people traffic locations. This could include (but not be limited to) the provision of additional hand sanitiser stations, posters to increase awareness and additional washroom checks to ensure that hand soap and hand drying facilities are maintained and are always available.
- Print handwashing posters to increase awareness of handwashing at this time, for example, posters at critical areas; washrooms, kitchen and eating spaces.
For more information on Initial and our COVID-19 initiative, click here. You can also download hand washing technique posters here for your office, or contact us for further information on our services, or visit our COVID-19 Services page for more information.