Coronavirus is a disease that continues to span the globe and the story develops every day. For many people, there is a worry that coronavirus may affect them, so we have collated the facts and information that we know already about the virus, how you can keep your house clean and what to do if you have been confirmed as a case.
Coronavirus is officially known as COVID-19, so throughout this article you may see ‘coronavirus’, ‘virus’ and ‘COVID-19’ used interchangeably.
In this article, we’ll cover:
Coronavirus. What Do We Know Already?
We’ve all heard of the new and fast spreading coronavirus disease. It’s become very well known from the media and has spread all around the globe, instilling fear amongst people from around the world.
We know that the coronavirus is a cousin of the SARS (severe acute respiratory syndrome) virus, an outbreak in 2003 which took the lives of over 800 people and confirmed over 8,000 cases. It was contained through the means of isolation and quarantine, preventing the virus from spreading outside of those confirmed with the virus.
The methods used to quarantine patients who have been confirmed with SARS was crucial in killing off the virus, as it prevented the virus from being able to spread from one human to the next, essentially killing off the virus.
At the time of writing this article, coronavirus has already surpassed 80,000 cases within two months. There have already been over 2,800 deaths directly linked to coronavirus.
There are some striking resemblances between coronavirus and SARS, but there are some clear differences between the two which differentiate the viruses apart. Because of these differences, the effects used to eradicate the SARS virus may not be as effective on COVID-19, or they may work very effectively in delaying the reproduction of the virus, causing it to slowly die out. Either way, quarantine is a great way of stalling the spread of a virus and will help prevent and minimise the outbreak of COVID-19.
How Does Coronavirus Spread?
Coronavirus spreads primarily through one person being in close proximity of another who with the virus. It spreads via respiratory droplets, which essentially means any small particles of saliva or mucus that are exhaled and contain traces of the virus can infect another person.
It is not yet reported whether or not coronavirus can spread through person to surface transmission, however the evidence currently points towards that the virus can live from a few hours to several days when on a variety of surfaces.
What Are The Symptoms?
COVID-19, like many other illnesses, presents symptoms. This can be a crucial factor in the early diagnosis of the virus and can help to minimise any contact with others. The common symptoms of the virus are having a fever, a cough and/or shortness of breath. These symptoms commonly appear 2-14 days after being exposed, with the average time being 5 days to present symptoms. Because people may not present symptoms for up to 14 days, this is why quarantine lasts for this amount of time.
If you know you have been in close proximity to someone with COVID-19, or you have recently travelled from an area with widespread or confirmed cases of COVID-19 then make sure you talk to your healthcare provider and ask for any advice and the next steps.
Other less common symptoms include sneezing, bone or joint pain, sort throat, headache, nausea or vomiting and diarrhoea. These are not commonly reported (15% or less), but should still be monitored closely. If you or anyone you know presents these symptoms, call your healthcare provider immediately and ask for further advice.
COVID-19 is a lower respiratory tract infection, therefore an ill person will experience symptoms within their chest and lungs. This is a clear difference between colds, as a cold is an upper respiratory tract infection. A lot of people are confusing the two, but there are symptoms to help differentiate them. A cold will present symptoms such as a runny or blocked nose, which COVID-19 will not.
What Does This Article Aim to Cover?
We’re sharing as much information as we know to help you to keep your chances of retracting the virus as low as possible. There are a number of things that you can do at home to help keep yourself safe and to keep your home and any areas that you work in clean and safe. Through a number of methods of cleaning, you can help to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
We’ll talk about things from a household setting, aiming to help the general public to achieve the end of the outbreak. To avoid ambiguity, there are two different terms that will be used in the below sections of the article.
The first is cleaning, which refers to the removal of germs and dirt to clean a surface. In doing this, it takes the germs away from a surface and doesn’t kill any remaining ones, but it minimises the number of germs that are there. Disinfecting is the method of using chemicals to kill off the germs themselves. Disinfecting a surface may not necessarily clean it, but it will help to kill off the germs.
We’ll talk through the best method to clean a household environment to minimise the spread of COVID-19.
Cautions Within a Household
Cleaning and disinfecting a household requires a lot of precision and care to ensure that no areas are left uncleaned. In all households, common areas that are touched frequently should be cleaned thoroughly and regularly. Some examples of these areas are as follows:
– Showers and/or bath
– Kitchen worktops
– Door handles
– House keys
– Window handles
The important thing to capture is anything that is likely to be picked up, and is likely to have been picked up recently. If someone is carrying the virus and they’ve coughed onto their hand, COVID-19 may still exist on that surface that they touch. It’s crucial to keep as many areas of your household as clean and disinfected as possible.
You’ll find a range of different cleaning products at the store if you don’t have them already. It’s important to read the instructions and make sure that you know what to do with them and how to use them correctly to ensure you get the utmost efficiency out of the cleaning products.
Make sure to use cleaning gloves to minimise your contact with any surfaces. This will help to make sure that don’t have any unnecessary contact with any surfaces unless it’s needed. If you have gloves you can throw away once you’re done then great, but if they are reusable ones then make sure that you have the sufficient means to clean and disinfect them once you’ve finished using them.
Extra Cautions For a Household with Suspected/Confirmed Case(s) of COVID-19
If you or anyone you know live in a household with a confirmed case or suspected case of COVID-19, it’s important to familiarise yourself with the below to help prevent the spread of the virus.
The first and most important thing is everybody in the household should learn more about the virus and what it entails, learning about symptoms and what the virus will do. This helps to ensure that anybody within the household knows what they’re looking out for and can easily and quickly identify any symptoms if they need to.
All areas of a household that are commonly touched (the ones highlighted in the above section) should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected on a daily basis to minimise the chance of the virus spreading.
Other things that should be considered are:
– Dedicate a bedroom and/or bathroom for an ill person to give them a dedicated area. This will help to ensure the virus has less chance of spreading.
– The cleaning of this room by any persons who do not reside in here should be only ‘when needed’. This ensures that the human-to-human contact is kept at a minimum to prevent any unnecessary interactions, lowering the risk of the coronavirus spreading.
– Those in the household should provide cleaning supplies for the ill person to help ensure they are able to minimise the contamination of the room. This should only be provided to those who are safe to be left alone with chemicals, for example young children would not be suitable. Cleaning supplies involve disinfectant, tissues, wipes, sprays and more.
– If there is not a separate bathroom available, the bathroom should be thoroughly cleaned and disinfected after every use by the ill person. This helps to minimise the spread of the virus to others in the household.
Taking these precautions will help to minimise the spread of COVID-19, so it’s vital that these are taken into account in every circumstance.
How to Clean And Disinfect a House
To properly clean and disinfect your house there are a number of things you’ll need to do to make sure it is as clean and germ free as possible. To help with this, we’ve broken it down into various areas of the house to help make sure that it’s as easy as possible to follow, making sure you don’t miss any vital steps.
Kitchen and Bathroom
These are arguably two of the most important rooms that need to be kept as clean as possible. We know about the transmission methods of COVID-19, and the bathroom and kitchen are two of the most common places that this virus can reside and transmit to another person.
Within the bathroom people are often found less protected from the environment as with other rooms of the house. Showering, taking a bath or using the toilet increases the risk of direct contact with any respiratory droplets, therefore the bathroom needs to be kept as clean and disinfected as possible.
The kitchen is a food preparation area which means if any respiratory droplets are ingested, these could cause contamination of another person. Because food is a necessity, there are methods you can use to prevent the spread of the virus.
When cleaning these rooms, make sure to wear disposable gloves if possible. These can be discarded quickly and easily, taking any risk of the virus with them. If these aren’t feasible, then make sure to use reusable gloves of some sort (such as washing up gloves) and make sure these are cleaned thoroughly and disinfected after every use. These gloves should only be used for cleaning surfaces that potentially house COVID-19 from now on, and will need to be disposed of as soon as the virus has depleted. Always make sure to wash hands with an antibacterial soap as soon as the gloves are taken off, and take extra caution to not touch the outside edge of the gloves when removing them.
All surfaces (such as the floor, worktops, sink, toilet, bath, shower and windowsills) need to be cleaned prior to any disinfectant. This helps to remove any dirt or waste that may house the virus which in turn can remove the majority of the virus from the surface.
Once the surfaces are all clean, you’ll need to use a certified disinfectant. Most stores will have this available and often they advertise that they kill ‘99.9%’ of bacteria. Try to find one of these if possible. This will help towards ensuring that anything left of the virus on your surfaces is killed off. Bleach is another good tool that you can use. Make sure that any household bleach you use is in date and is properly diluted as per the instructions provided.
Make sure that anything that has been used for food items is properly handled. Use a pair of gloves whenever handling the plates, utensils or wrappers to prevent the spread of the virus to yourself or from transporting it to other areas of the house. The ill person should eat any food in their room to prevent the risk of any respiratory droplets heading towards other members of the household. Always wash your hands after handling any items that have been used by the ill person.
Living Room and Bedrooms
Within the living room and most bedrooms you’ll find that there are plenty of places that need to be looked at to ensure safety within the home for all other members of the household.
Carpets should be cleaned deeply and more often to help prevent the virus from living there. If possible, using a steam cleaner will help to kill the virus within the carpet and help to prevent the spread of COVID-19 within your home.
Make sure to keep any clothes or towels that the ill person has used away from anyone else. These should be kept within the room of the ill person at all times, and only washed when absolutely necessary. To wash clothes, you’ll want to use the warmest water setting possible. This will help to kill any traces of the virus on the fabrics and let the clothes dry completely. This will help to keep the growth of the virus, should there be any left after the was, to a minimum.
Other Household Things To Do
Keep dusting and hoovering your home. Respiratory droplets can live on small flecks of dust, therefore being able to transfer around your home. By dusting your home and hoovering the floors often, you’ll help to minimise the amount of dust and lessen the chance of COVID-19 spreading.
Whenever you’re doing an washing, be very careful to not shake the clothing. If there is dust or any traces of COVID-19 you’ll want to keep this localised to that fabric. Shaking may loosen the dust and could risk spreading the virus through the air. To help prevent mixing the clothing from the ill person with other washing to be done, use a bin bag as a laundry basket for their clothes. This will help to keep the clothes air tight whilst being transported around the home and lower the risk of spreading the virus.
Always make sure you’re wearing gloves whenever handling anything from the ill person. Whether that’s the washing, or whether you’re doing some cleaning, it’s absolutely vital that you use gloves and protect yourself as best you can. Aim to wash your hands every hour or so to keep them clean and minimise the risk of spreading the virus.
It’s important to keep your hands clean. Your hands are the thing that commonly touches other areas of the home, such as the light switches or the door handles, so it’s crucial that you keep them as clean as possible.
You should always wash your hands after the following situations:
– Removing gloves
– Cleaning areas of the house
– Contact with the ill person
– Touching frequently touched areas of the house
– After blowing your nose
– After using the toilet
– After sneezing or coughing
– Before and after eating food
– After contact with any pets
– Before and after providing assistance to someone else (such as a young child)
– Every hour (if not more frequently)
To properly wash your hands, you should use the following steps:
Step 1 – Wet Your Hands
Turn on the tap and rinse your hands to make sure they’re nice and wet. Once done, turn off the tap and apply some soap. If this is a bar of soap, lather this between your hands and ensure that you’re getting soapy bubbled. If it’s a dispensing liquid soap, pour some into your hands and rub together to form a lather.
Step 2 – Scrub Your Hands Together For at Least 20 Seconds
Scrub everywhere on your hands. The most common places that people miss are:
– The backs of their hands
– In between their fingers
– Their wrists
– Under their fingernails
Make sure to capture everywhere on your hands, and use various motions to capture all of these. It should take around 20-30 seconds in total if done correctly. If you’re finding that it takes less time than this, repeat the process again. This should last around the same time as if you were to sing the ‘Happy Birthday’ song twice over, so do this in your head as a guide until you get used to the timings.
The scrubbing of your hands helps to create friction and in term, this helps to life dirt and microbes from your skin, which is why this step is so important.
Step 3 – Rinse Your Hands
Use some clean running water to rinse away any suds from your hands. Make sure that all the soap has fully washed off your hands, and make sure to rub your hands together as the water pours away the soap to get rid of any last suds. In the previous step you’ll have lifted a lot of dirt from your hands, so you’ll need to rinse these away to prevent them from landing on any other surfaces.
Step 4 – Dry Your Hands
Use a clean towel or kitchen roll that can be safely disposed of to dry your hands. This will help to ensure that your hands are free from coming into contact with any objects which may have the virus.
Steps to Prevent Infection
There are a number of steps that we’ve covered already to help prevent the spread of the virus. To help ensure these steps are as clear as possible, you may find some below along with other steps to help protect yourself and your family.
If You’re Not Sick
– Make sure to avoid close contact with others who are sick. If COVID-19 is spreading in your community make sure to put distance between yourself and others.
– Wash your hands often. We’ve included a list above of potential situations that you should wash your hands afterwards, but aim to wash your hands every hour at minimum.
– Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands. The virus spreads through respiratory droplets which can come from an ill person coughing or sneezing. Should a droplet be on your hand when you touch your face, you could risk becoming ill.
– Use hand sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if washing your hands is not an option. This will help to kill the virus, should it exist on your hands.
– Clean all frequently touched areas daily. Use a cleaner and disinfectant to help eliminate any traces of the virus. Please see a list of examples under the heading ‘Cautions Within a Household’.
If You Are Sick
– Stay at home and use a room in your home to stay in, minimising the contact between yourself and others. Try to use a bedroom and bathroom which will not be used by anyone else in the household. This will ensure that the virus remains confined away from others.
– Avoid going into public areas unless to visit a healthcare provider. If you are in a public place, make sure to wear a facemask as much as possible. If you cannot wear one, for example it causes breathing difficulties, be very careful to direct your sneezes and coughs into a tissue, and discard immediately. Wash your hands as soon as you can following the steps in the ‘Hand Washing’ section.
– Call your healthcare provider in advance and alert them that you may be have COVID-19. They’ll be able to advise on the best methods to avoid the risk of contamination to others during your transportation.
– Limit your contact with pets and animals as well as with humans. Although there have been no reports of pets becoming ill with COVID-19, it’s best to not take your chances. If you must take care of your pet and nobody else can help, always wash your hands before and after any interaction and aim to keep any contact to a minimum.
– Do not share any household items. Plates, glasses, towels, clothes, food, drinks or anything that may be used by another person should not be shared between the ill person and others. After every use, thoroughly wash these items and disinfect where possible.
– Make sure to keep all items that the ill person has used separated from the rest of the household. This helps to ensure that the virus is contained within the household. Washing, such as clothing and bedding, should be kept within an airtight plastic bin bag whenever being transported from the ill persons room to the washing machine.
Who Is Most At Risk?
Although COVID-19 can infect anybody, there are specific people who are most at risk of falling seriously ill. Up to 80% of people will be able to manage their symptoms at home, therefore if you do suspect that you are have COVID-19 it’s important not to panic.
There are people who are at risk of becoming very ill from the virus however. People who are at a higher risk are:
– Older adults
– People with existing conditions such as heart disease, diabetes and lung disease.
If you live in an community where there has been an outbreak and you’re at a higher risk, distancing yourself from others is a good way of helping to prevent yourself becoming ill. An outbreak is where a lot of people in a community suddenly get ill, and this can last for a long time. One person may pass the virus to another, and then to another two, which can increase exponentially.
What To Do If You Are High Risk
There are some precautions you can take to prevent yourself falling ill.
– Have enough supplies to be able to stay at home for long periods of time. Food, medication to treat a fever and cleaning supplies are crucial to allow you to stay within your home.
– Avoid visiting public areas, especially crowded places or poorly ventilated areas.
– Wash your hands often using the guide in the section above ‘Hand Washing’.
– Avoid touching your face and only do so after you have washed your hands.
– Avoid travel unless absolutely required. Planes, buses and boats are usually quite crowded.
– Avoid touching highly touched objects. If you’re at home, this can be door handles, light switches, keyboards etc. If you’re in public, these can be door handles, handrails, elevator buttons, handshakes, grab handles etc. An easy way to avoid this is to use your sleeve to cover your hand prior to contact.
– If you do make contact with your sleeve, make sure to keep your sleeve away from your face and wash thoroughly at the earliest convenience.
– Use disinfectant to clean any commonly touched objects that you own. This can include your house keys, your phone, a water bottle. These items commonly go with you into public, so keep them clean and germ free.
– Avoid areas where COVID-19 is spreading. This can be found online and your healthcare provider can provide further details on how to prevent the risk of getting ill.
– Keep in contact with friends and family. You may require their assistance should you get ill, and if something were to happen and your weren’t able to make contact they would be aware that you are high risk, and can come and check if you are okay.
What To Do If A Loved One Is High Risk
If you know of someone who is at high risk, you may wish to take extra precautions to provide care for them. Something’s you can do to help are:
– Make any shopping trips for them for food, cleaning supplies, toiletries etc.
– Help stock up on non-perishable foods to help prevent any unnecessary trips to the public.
– Monitor their symptoms should they display any, and contact their healthcare provider if you are in doubt about anything. They may not want to do it themselves, but it’s better to get some expert advice sooner rather than later.
Coronavirus or COVID-19 is not a pleasant virus, but we can defeat it. Please, continue to be vigilant and keep your home clean and safe. If we all do our little bit, we’ll help to defeat this viru