Emerging and Infectious Diseases
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in late 2019 and its subsequent rapid global spread, our world has changed. Virtually everyone’s daily lives have been impacted in some way. Naturally, such change often comes with trepidation and worry. For ServiceMaster Clean, we believe that the best way to alleviate such concerns is through knowledge and education from some of the world’s most reputable healthcare bodies. As such, please find below some of the most common questions we have received regarding COVID-19.
What is an emerging infectious disease?
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) defines infectious diseases as “illnesses caused by germs (such as bacteria, viruses, and fungi) that enter the body, multiply, and cause an infection.” Depending on the disease, there are different ways that it can be spread:
- From one person to another
- Through germs carried in air, water, food, or soil
- By insects, ticks, or animals
Emerging diseases are infections that have increased recently or are threatening to increase in the near future. These infections could be
- Newly discovered
- Completely new to an area
- Reappearing in an area
- Caused by bacteria that have become resistant to antibiotics
What is a coronavirus?
Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses. Some cause illness in people and others cause illness in animals. Human coronaviruses are common and are typically associated with mild illnesses, similar to the common cold.
COVID-19 is a new disease that has not been previously identified in humans. Rarely, animal coronaviruses can infect people, and more rarely, these can then spread from person to person through close contact.
There have been 2 other specific coronaviruses that have spread from animals to humans and which have caused severe illness in humans. These are:
- Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus (SARS CoV)
- Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS CoV)
What is an epidemic vs a pandemic?
According to the World Health Organization (WHO), “a pandemic is a worldwide spread of a new disease.” Before a disease is declared as a pandemic, it has to exceed a few other levels, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC):
- When a disease occurs infrequently and irregularly.
- A constant presence and/or usual prevalence of a disease or infection within a geographic area.
- A sudden increase in the number of cases of a disease — more than what's typically expected for the population in that area.
- An epidemic that has spread over several countries or continents, affecting a large number of people.
How do coronaviruses spread?
Human coronaviruses cause infections of the nose, throat and lungs. They are most commonly spread from an infected person through:
- respiratory droplets generated when you cough or sneeze
- close, prolonged personal contact, such as touching or shaking hands
- touching something with the virus on it, then touching your mouth, nose or eyes before washing your hands
Current evidence suggests person-to-person spread is efficient when there is close contact.
Source — https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html#h
Why is it called COVID-19?
COVID-19 is an acronym that stands for coronavirus disease of 2019. The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially named the disease COVID-19 and the virus that causes the disease as severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
Source — https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/technical-guidance/naming-the-coronavirus-disease-(covid-2019)-and-the-virus-that-causes-it
What is the difference between self-monitor, self-isolate (quarantine) and isolate?
Self-monitoring means to:
- monitor yourself for 14 days for symptoms of respiratory illness, such as cough, fever and difficulty breathing
- avoid crowded places and increase your personal space from others whenever possible
Self-isolation (quarantine) means to:
- stay at home and monitor yourself for symptoms, even if mild, for 14 days
- avoid contact with others
You should self-isolate if you:
- have no symptoms and
- have travelled outside of Canada within the last 14 days or
- have come in close contact with someone diagnosed with COVID-19 or
- have been asked to do so by your public health authority
Isolating yourself means to:
- stay home until the local public health authority says you are no longer at risk of spreading the virus
- avoid contact with others
You need to be isolated if you:
- have symptoms, even if mild, associated with COVID-19 or
- have been diagnosed with COVID-19 or
- are waiting for laboratory test results or
- have been advised to do so by your Public Health Authority
How can I protect myself from COVID-19?
Together, we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by making a conscious effort to keep a physical distance between each other. Social distancing is proven to be one of the most effective ways to reduce the spread of illness during an outbreak.
This means making changes in your everyday routines to minimize close contact with others, including:
- avoiding crowded places and non-essential gatherings
- avoiding common greetings, such as handshakes
- limiting contact with people at higher risk like older adults and those in poor health
- keeping a distance of at least 2 arms-length (approximately 2 metres) from others
Proper hygiene can help reduce the risk of infection or spreading infection to others:
- wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after using the washroom and when preparing food
- use alcohol-based hand sanitizer if soap and water are not available
- when coughing or sneezing:
- cough or sneeze into a tissue or the bend of your arm, not your hand
- dispose of any tissues you have used as soon as possible in a lined waste basket and wash your hands afterwards
- avoid touching your eyes, nose, or mouth with unwashed hands
While it is not certain how long COVID-19 survives on surfaces, it does seem to behave like other coronaviruses. Preliminary information on COVID-19 suggests that the virus may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days depending on different conditions, such as:
- type of surface
- humidity of the environment
Although they do not claim to kill viruses such as COVID-19, cleaning solutions can play a role in helping limit the transfer of microorganisms. Health Canada has published a list of hard surface disinfectants that are likely to be effective for use against coronavirus (COVID-19). Public health officials such as WHO and Health Canada recommend cleaning high-touch surfaces often. In the workplace, it is recommended that high traffic work areas or frequently touched surfaces are disinfected twice daily. For example:
In your home:
- door handles
- bedside tables
- television remotes
In the workplace:
- computers, including keyboards and mice
- light switches
- faucet handles
- cabinet handles
- elevator buttons
- cash registers
- restaurant tables and menus
Isn’t “clean”, “disinfect” and “sanitize” the same thing?
To the general public, these three terms — clean, disinfect, sanitize — are often used interchangeably. However, to a cleaning professional, these terms are not the same and can refer to very different outcomes. According to Public Health Canada and the U.S. Center for Disease Control, the definition of these terms are as follows:
- This refers to the removal of visible dirt and debris through the use of soap or detergent and water. While this process may remove germs from surfaces, it does not necessarily kill the germs. This said, the mere act of germ removal lowers their numbers and does help in reducing the risk of infection.
- With disinfection, germs are actually KILLED on surfaces through the use of chemicals. This process does not necessarily clean dirty surfaces or remove germs, but by killing germs on a surface after cleaning, it can further lower the risk of spreading infection.
- Lastly, the term sanitize has its roots in the word “Sanitary” which is defined as “of or relating to health”. When you keep this in mind, to sanitize means lowering the number of germs on surfaces to a safe level, as judged by public health standards or requirements. This can be achieved by either cleaning and/or disinfecting surfaces to lower the risk of spreading infection.
Not to confuse you anymore, but as an added bonus, we’ll also define the term “sterilize” which is the process in which chemicals are used to kill ALL microbial life including bacteria, viruses, spores and fungi. This is a process that is very rarely undertaken in a facility outside of a healthcare setting.
So, for a cleaning professional, our disinfection process for your commercial facility is routinely a 2-step process - We clean first, then disinfect - in order to provide you with a sanitary facility in which to work!
How can ServiceMaster Clean help?
If you need help maintaining routine cleanliness conditions in your workplace, you may want to call in a professional like ServiceMaster Clean to sanitize and disinfect.
Our expert technicians are trained to clean first to break organic loads and remove gross soiling. Then they sanitize or disinfect as appropriate.
When we do this, we follow the guidelines set in place by the health officials such as WHO and Health Canada. There are many methods of disinfection and you can be assured that your technician is trained to do each in the recommended manner. Our technicians also use appropriate PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) with your security and privacy in consideration.
Note: It is important to keep in mind that COVID-19 is a new and emerging pathogen. Regulators are just beginning to understand COVID-19 — how it spreads, the incubation period, length and severity of illness — knowledge that will develop over time.