As more countries start to move towards life post Covid lockdown, people are coming into contact with one another at a higher rate than we have seen in over a year. Large events are going ahead and the hospitality sector is getting back on its feet. Customers are able to visit businesses and industries are getting back to full capacity. This increased contact is long overdue but brings with it some uninvited guests that have been waiting all winter to spread their, in some cases, devastating consequences.
Lockdowns, social distancing and overall limited contact have proven effective at limiting the spread of Covid-19, especially during the winter months; they have also stemmed the spread of other viruses, normally in circulation between November and April. Winter flu and Norovirus are on the rise this summer, causing an influx of emergency hospital admissions as people are suffering with symptoms in what some are describing as ‘immunity debt’.
The Covid-19 vaccination programme continues its up-take across the globe, with the rollout of Covid-19 vaccines across the EU increasing at a rapid rate. More than 300 million vaccines have been administered in Europe, with nearly half of the EU’s adult population having received their first dose and 28% now fully vaccinated. Populations may be vaccinated against Covid-19 but we are still susceptible to other viruses, and because we have not been exposed to them over winter like we normally would be, the effects can be much worse. It is still vital that surfaces are still disinfected regularly as a routine regardless of Covid-19 to stop the spread of all viruses.
In England alone, cases of Norovirus have reached pre-pandemic levels in the summer months. There have been over 150 outbreaks reported in the last five weeks, compared to the average 53 over the last few years. Although the virus can be contracted year round, it is uncommon, with cases mainly reported November to April.
The more people that contract Norovirus, the higher the hospital admissions; this in itself could lead to outbreaks in hospital departments and infections transmitting to people who are already seriously unwell and the staff who are treating them.
Unlike Covid-19, hand sanitiser will not stop the spread of Norovirus, washing hands with soap and water is vital but so is ensuring your facilities are disinfected to stop the virus from spreading. Equipment, tools and machinery are often handled by numerous operators in industrial settings and manufacturing facilities. If one of these operators contracts Norovirus, they could potentially infect the remaining workforce if preventative measures are not followed. Good hand hygiene along with routine surface disinfection will help protect your employees and site operators from Norovirus as well as Covid-19 and the increase of winter flu virus. It’s also important to remember to degrease before disinfecting your facilities surfaces. Germs often hide underneath greasy soils, which protect them from disinfectant. Degreasing ahead of the disinfection process removes this protection, allowing the disinfectant product to remove all germs.
Norovirus can result in severe illness for people with underlying conditions and the elderly, in some cases causing death. The common symptoms of Norovirus include vomiting and diarrhea and often results in nausea and stomach pain. Belonging to the Caliciviridae family, Norovirus can survive in harsh temperatures; from freezing up to 60°C. This highly infectious virus can spread from consuming contaminated food and water as well as from person to person, with 10-100 viral particles being enough to cause infection in an individual.
When a person infected with Norovirus vomits, ‘aerosols’ are created, which contain large amounts of virus particles. These particles land on surfaces, where they are able to survive for long periods unless adequately removed through cleaning and disinfection processes. Cleaning equipment, sanitising control panels and washing hands remain critical with or without Covid-19 lockdowns.
Anyone with Norovirus symptoms are advised to remain home and rest, with areas of infection being cleaning immediately to stem the spread of the virus. Good hand hygiene, surface cleaning and avoiding food preparation are the main pieces of guidance for anyone suffering with this virus.
Good hand hygiene and surface cleaning are practises that should be in place as preventative measures for all viruses. Covid-19, Norovirus and winter flu are all circulating and have increased opportunity to spread if we become complacent. Ensure your facility stays operational with the right disinfectants and hand soap.
Want more information about how the right hand care and surface disinfection programme can benefit your site? Contact NCH to find out about our full range of surface disinfectants and hand care programme