Coronavirus cases are popping up daily all around the world. Little is known about this new virus, specifically how it can spread and how long the pandemic will last. But by learning more about it, you can take action to protect people in your workspace from getting infected.
What do we know so far about COVID-19?
The name of the virus that’s spreading is SARS-CoV-2. COVID-19 is the disease it causes.
Coronaviruses are a branch of the virus family tree that includes the disease-causing pathogens behind SARS, MERS and several types of the common cold.
The new virus is named for the spiky, crown-like fringe that gives each viral particle a “coronated” appearance.
Coronaviruses tend to target the respiratory systems of bats and other mammals, as well as birds. Occasionally, they pass to humans, as occurred with the 2003 SARS and 2012 MERS outbreaks, which likely originated in bats.
What are the symptoms of COVID-19?
COVID-19 infiltrates the airways of its hosts. It can cause severe forms of viral pneumonia, which can lead to death. The new coronavirus’s fatality rate seems to be about 2% — a small fraction of the 10% and 35% figures reported for SARS and MERS.
About 80% of COVID-19 cases appear to be mild, causing cold-like symptoms like coughing, shortness of breath and fever. Some people may carry the virus without showing any symptoms.
Since COVID-19 was first reported in China, it has killed about 3,000 people, compared with SARS (about 770 deaths) and MERS (about 850 deaths). This suggests that this new virus is more contagious than its predecessors — or most strains of influenza virus.
Who is most at risk?
According to the World Health Organization, COVID-19’s death rate increases with age. The highest mortality rate – 21.9% — occurs among those who are 80 years of age.
People with underlying medical issues – like respiratory and heart conditions, as well as smokers – are among those at highest risk.
Some early reports incorrectly suggested children don’t get COVID-19. They can, but they appear less vulnerable than adults.
How does the virus spread?
Like other viruses, the coronavirus can move directly from person to person through droplets produced by coughs or sneezes that travel through the air and settle on skin or high-touch surfaces like doorknobs, washroom surfaces, computer keyboards and cellphones.
When a person is exposed to the virus, symptoms can take weeks to appear, if they do at all. Whether they have symptoms or not, they still can spread the disease.
The CDC estimates that each infected person can infect two or three other people with the virus.
It’s advised that people do fist bumps or elbow touches instead of shaking hands – and stand at least three feet away from other people. Six feet is better.
How can I protect myself and my employees?
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommends the same preventive steps you follow during flu season.
Wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the bathroom, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing, and before eating.
If you can’t wash your hands, the CDC says alcohol-based hand sanitizers can be effective, as long as they contain at least 60% alcohol.
Some sanitizers labeled “anti-bacterial” contain only antibiotics, which will not protect against viruses.
According to WHO, if someone is sick, wearing a face mask can reduce the spread of disease. But most face masks, including loose-fitting surgical masks, won’t protect people from respiratory diseases. Preventive measures like thorough disinfection are much more effective.
What’s the best way to disinfect the workplace?
Most janitorial companies use disinfectant solutions applied with hand-held pump sprayers. At best, pump sprayers can only reach portions of chairs, desktops, washroom surfaces and doorknobs.
Disease-causing bacteria and viruses continue to breed on surfaces where pump sprayers can’t reach. But proper disinfection can dramatically reduce employee sickness, absenteeism and loss of revenue.
The Clorox® Total 360® Electrostatic Disinfection System is the most thorough disinfection method in use today. With this system, a fine mist of disinfectant is applied to every surface, killing viruses and bacteria. It’s highly effective, safe for people and safe for all surfaces.
UBM personnel are thoroughly trained on the Clorox Total 360 Electrostatic Disinfection System. If you have questions or would like an estimate, please call us at 913-322-6200.