Vice President of Professional & Technical Services, Virox Technologies Inc.
Why vigilance, collaboration, and continued implementation of infection prevention practices will be our saving grace.
Riding out the COVID-19 pandemic is going to be a marathon, not a sprint. The most visible sign today of our proactive defence against the virus is wearing a mask — and certainly public health experts have highlighted the importance of doing so. But there are also other precautions we should be taking to keep ourselves safe. With our newfound understanding of how infectious diseases are spread, we now understand that hand hygiene and disinfection of commonly-touched surfaces reduce our chance of picking up COVID-19, influenza, and the common cold. Now is not the time to fall victim to pandemic fatigue.
Don’t become desensitized
The pandemic is real. Infectious disease experts aren’t crying wolf. Worldwide, over one million people have died from COVID-19. Canada’s public health experts have done an admirable job in protecting the lives of Canadians, and as a nation, we should be proud of the part we’ve played in reducing the spread. As we ride out the second wave, now is not the time to relax, become impatient with public health warnings, or become indifferent to what we’ve learned. Celebrate the success of your new routines. The reward for your vigilance is that nothing happens to you.
Hand hygiene is still crucial
Is your current bottle of soap or hand sanitizer lasting longer that it was before? Your hands have touched everything your family, your coworkers, and strangers have touched. We touch our faces all the time — in fact, research has shown that we touch our face 16 to 23 times per hour. Heed the advice of experts and wash your hands often, especially after touching public surfaces and before eating or touching your face.
Do you wipe and walk away?
Disinfectants don’t kill on contact. To be effective, it’s essential that disinfectants achieve the wet dwell time (the time the surface needs to stay wet) as listed on the product label. If the label indicates a contact or dwell time of 10 minutes, the surface needs to stay wet for 10 minutes in order to achieve disinfection. For this reason, the best disinfectant products must be capable of staying wet throughout the length of the contact times listed on the label.
When was the last time you disinfected a surface? Did you spray and immediately wipe the disinfectant away? Don’t spray and wipe. Chant the mantra, “It’s gotta be wet to disinfect” the next time you use a disinfectant wipe.
Avoiding calls to poison control
Many of today’s disinfectant chemicals are a threat to human and animal health. Accidental poisonings associated with disinfectants have increased more than two-fold during the COVID-19 pandemic. Some disinfectants can cause permanent eye, skin, and mucous membrane damage, some are potentially carcinogenic, and some have been shown to induce occupational asthma. This is also why you need to read the label and dilute as instructed, and why it’s important not to mix chemicals.
COVID-19 won’t be the last pandemic
COVID-19 has taught us what bacteria, viruses, and other microbes are, where they can be found, and how they cause disease. In protecting the health of our loved ones, we’ve developed social vigilance through understanding the importance of hand hygiene, cleaning, and disinfection, and have gained a sense of responsibility to take reasonable action to prevent transmission and protect ourselves.