Ministry of Health, Agriculture, Sports and Human Services

Standard Operating Procedure for Cleaning following COVID-19 Pandemic on Non-Health Care Settings

BACKGROUND

Based on what is currently known about the COVID-19 virus, spread from person-to-person happens most frequently among close contacts (within about 6 feet). This document incorporates guidance from Public Health England (PHC), World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (CDC) base on the management experience of recent outbreak of new coronaviruses (SARS-CoV and MERS-CoV).

Transmission of coronavirus in general occurs much more commonly through respiratory droplets than through fomites. The infection risk from coronavirus (COVID-19) following contamination of the environment decreases over time. It is not yet clear at what point there is no risk, however, current evidence suggests that COVID-19 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Studies of other viruses in the same family suggest that, in most circumstances, the risk is likely to be reduced significantly after 72 hours. The risk of infection depends on many factors, including:

  • The type of surfaces contaminated
  • The amount of virus shed from the individual
  • The time the individual spent in the setting
  • The time since the individual was last in the setting

Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces with soap and water followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in community settings.

Employers are advised to perform a general cleaning of office spaces prior to staff returning to work, especially in those offices that remained closed during the “shelter in place” period.

WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW

Cleaning an area with normal household disinfectant such as bleach after someone with suspected coronavirus (COVID-19) has left will reduce the risk of passing the infection on to other people.

  • Wear disposable or washing-up gloves and aprons for cleaning.
  • garbage/waste should be double-bagged, then stored securely for 72 hours then thrown away in the regular rubbish after cleaning is finished.
  • Using a disposable cloth, first clean hard surfaces with warm soapy water. Then disinfect these surfaces with the cleaning products you normally use. Pay particular attention to frequently touched areas and surfaces, such as bathrooms, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells and door handles.
  • If an area has been heavily contaminated, i.e. a few persons positive for coronavirus (COVID-19), use protection for the eyes, mouth and nose, as well as wearing gloves and an apron.
  • Wash hands regularly with soap and water for 20 seconds, also after removing gloves, aprons and other protection used while cleaning.

PERSONAL PROTECTIVE EQUIPMENT (PPE)

The minimum PPE to be worn for cleaning an area where a person with possible or confirmed coronavirus (COVID-19) is disposable gloves and an apron. Hands should be washed with soap and water for 20 seconds after all PPE has been removed.

If a risk assessment of the setting indicates that a higher level of virus may be present (for example, where unwell individuals have slept such as a hotel room or an apartment building) or there is visible contamination with body fluids, then the need for additional PPE to protect the cleaner’s eyes, mouth and nose would be necessary.

CLEANING AND DISINFECTION/DECONTAMINATION

Public areas where an individual with symptoms passed through and spent minimal time, such as corridors, but which are not visibly contaminated with body fluids can be cleaned thoroughly as normal.

All surfaces that the person with symptoms came into contact with must be cleaned and disinfected, including:

  • Objects which are visibly contaminated with body fluids.
  • All potentially contaminated high-contact areas such as bathrooms, door handles, telephones, grab-rails in corridors and stairwells.

Before cleaning, ensure that all necessary tools and equipment are prepared and readily available. Cleaning tools, cleansers/disinfectants, measuring tools and protective gear will be needed.

Cleaning tools:

  • Brush, mop, towel, spray can and bucket.

Cleansers/disinfectants:

  • Bleach and water.

Measuring tools:

  • Tablespoon and measuring cup.

Protective gear:

  • Disposable gloves, plastic apron and possibly goggles and masks if required.

Use disposable cloths or paper roll and disposable mop heads, to clean all hard surfaces, floors, chairs, door handles and sanitary fittings. Bleach solution is a strong and effective disinfectant. Its active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, denatures protein in micro-organisms and is therefore effective in killing bacteria, fungus and viruses. Household bleach works quickly and is widely available at a low cost. Diluted household bleach is thus recommended for the disinfection of facilities.

Improper use of bleach may reduce its effectiveness in disinfection and also lead to accidents which can be harmful to health. Overuse of bleach or using a bleach solution that is too concentrated results in the production of toxic substances that pollute the environment and disturb ecological balance.

Procedures of Preparing/Using Diluted Bleach

  1. When diluting or using bleach ensure good ventilation.
  2. Put on protective gear when diluting or using bleach as it irritates mucous membranes, the skin and the airway.
  3. Cold water should be used for dilution as hot water decomposes the active ingredient of bleach and renders it ineffective.
  4. Bleach containing 5.25% sodium hypochlorite should be diluted as follows (demonstration short):
    • diluted household bleach (mixing 10ml of bleach with 1litre of water) can be used for general cleaning.
    • diluted household bleach (mixing 10ml of bleach with 0.5litre of water) is used to disinfect surfaces or articles contaminated with vomitus, excreta, secretions or blood.
  5. For accurate measurement of the amount of bleach added, a measuring cup can be used.
  6. Rinse disinfected articles with water and wipe dry.
  7. Cleaning tools should be soaked in diluted bleach for 30 minutes and then rinsed thoroughly before reuse.
  8. Finally, wash hands with liquid soap, then dry hands with a clean towel or disposable towel.

PRECAUTIONS

  • Avoid using bleach on metals, wool, nylon, silk, dyed fabric and painted surfaces.
  • Avoid touching the eyes. If bleach gets into the eyes, immediately rinse with water for at least 15 minutes and consult a doctor.
  • Bleach should not be used together or mixed with other household detergents as this reduces its effectiveness in disinfection and causes chemical reactions. For instance, a toxic gas is produced when bleach is mixed with acidic detergents such as those used for toilet cleaning. This could result in accidents and injuries. If necessary, use detergents first and rinse thoroughly with water before using bleach for disinfection.
  • For effective disinfection, diluted bleach should be used within 24 hours after preparation as decomposition increases with time if left unused.
  • Avoid creating splashes and spray when cleaning.
  • Any cloths and mop heads used must be disposed of and should be put into waste bags as outlined below.

When items cannot be cleaned using detergents or laundered, for example, upholstered furniture and mattresses, steam cleaning should be used.

Any items that are heavily contaminated with body fluids and cannot be cleaned by washing should be appropriately disposed of.

WASTE

Waste from office spaces are not considered infectious waste. After decontamination, wipes can be disposed in with your solid waste and mop water can be discharged to the sanitary sewer. If, however, a member of staff develop signs and symptoms related to COVID-19, put waste including, disposable or washing-up gloves, aprons used for cleaning and disposable wipes in a double-bag, store securely for 72 hours, then thrown away in the regular rubbish.

NB. Management /Supervisor must ensure that all the appropriate cleaning tools are available, also that cleaning staff is knowledgeable about cleaning protocol, and that they adhere to the protocol.