Coronavirus in SA – Hygiene and prevention measures the cornerstone of infection control

Africa health

The news of the first known case of the novel coronavirus (2019-nCov) in South Africa follows confirmed cases in both Algeria and Nigeria.  South African health officials, including Health Minister Mkhize, however, are confident in our nations’ ability to contain the spread and avoid catastrophe.

The WHO (World Health Organization), has warned that an outbreak on African soil is practically inevitable.  Despite this the Ministry of Health has assured the public that SA is well-prepared to deal with any crisis, and the WHO, have rated SA highly in various technical assessments and has expressed faith in our ability to cope.

Emma Corder, Managing Director of industrial cleaning service provider Industroclean believes that hygiene and prevention measures are the cornerstone of infection control and that the uncertainty surrounding the virus necessitates extra precautionary rigour in areas where the disease could be passed on, like public spaces, airports and hospitals.

“Since there is still lack of clarity on various aspects of the virus, such as the exact incubation period and how often asymptomatic people are passing on the virus,  it is imperative that we take preventative measures against an outbreak”, she says.

Corder adds that a ready supply of surgical gloves, fitted N95 respiration masks, and sampling swabs must be ensured at both airports and designated quarantine zones.

“Personal protective equipment, hand hygiene, as well as sterilization of tools, and environmental cleansing  and disinfection are absolutely crucial in an outbreak situation, as even the slightest breach in protocol could lead to loss of life or illness on a large scale,” she says.

At present all incoming air-passengers are screened for high-temperature and flu-like symptoms – fever, cough, difficulty breathing – and those that are red-flagged are immediately quarantined and examined by health care professionals at the point of entry.

Several hospitals around the country have been designated to establish preemptive quarantine zones for the virus. These sites were chosen because of their proximity to our biggest international airports, but also for their ability to contain its spread, and conduct research.

With over 96 600 known infections across the globe and over 3 300  reported deaths the potential spread of the virus is a foremost concern for public health specialists right now.

“The race to prevent further spread and the uncertainty around the virus require that strict hygiene and other infection prevention protocols are observed in any area where the virus could spread”, concludes Corder.

COVID 19:  HOW TO PROTECT YOURSELF

Wash your hands frequently
Wash your hands often with soap and water if your hands are visibly dirty or an alcohol-based hand rub if they are not visibly dirty.  

Respiratory hygiene
Cover your mouth and nose with your elbow or a tissue when you cough or sneeze. Throw the tissue away immediately into a closed bin and wash your hands with soap and water or an alcohol-based rub. This will prevent the spread of germs.

Keep your distance
If someone is coughing, sneezing or has a fever, maintain at least a one metre distance between yourself and them.  When someone who is infected with COVID 19 coughs or sneezes small droplets containing the virus are projected.  If you are too close, you may breathe in the virus.

Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
Your hands touch many surfaces which can be contaminated with the virus. If you then touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands, you could transfer the virus from the surface to yourself.

What to do if you have a fever, cough or difficulty

When to seek medical attention
If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early.  Let your doctor or health provider know if you have visited an area in China where COVID 19 has been reported or if you have been in close contact with someone who has travelled from China and has respiratory symptoms.

When to wear a mask

  • Masks are only effective when used in conjunction with frequent handwashing using soap or an alcohol scrub.
  • If you are healthy, you only need to wear a mask if you are caring for a person suspected of having the virus.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.

Issued by HWB Communications Pty Ltd on behalf of Industroclean.

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