The Coronavirus: What is it? How did it start? What to do next.

It is nearly impossible to turn on a TV, visit a news website or read a newspaper without seeing something on the latest health concern, the Coronavirus. That being said, even with all the coverage there is not a lot of information on what the virus is, how it was started, how people can prevent it and what you should do if you suspect yourself your business may have been exposed to the virus.

What is the Coronavirus?
First, let’s discuss what the Coronavirus is and how it started. The coronavirus, or scientifically named 2019 Novel Coronavirus or 2019-nCoV, is a respiratory virus first identified in Wuhan, China. Initially suspected to be linked to a large animal and seafood market, it soon became the belief that the virus can and does spread from person-to-person. Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses, some of which affect humans while others affect animals. Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) is a different type of Coronavirus but is NOT the same as what is now being generally labeled “the Coronavirus”.

How does the Coronavirus spread?
While little is known about the new coronavirus 2019-nCoV, scientists believe the virus will act similar to other more well-known coronaviruses such as MERS or SARS. It is believed that the coronavirus spreads from person-to-person when in close proximity to each other. The standard excepted distance is about 6 feet. The virus is spread much like the flu by an infected person coughing or sneezing. This introduces tiny respiratory droplets that can enter a non-infected person’s mouth, nose or be inhaled into the lungs. As with other respiratory viruses, individuals are typically considered to be most contagious when they are demonstrating the greatest level of symptoms.

What are the symptoms of the Coronavirus?
While the intensity of symptoms varies, with some individuals showing little or no symptoms and others demonstrating severe illness and even dying, the three main symptoms include;
• Fever
• Cough
• Shortness of breath
These symptoms may begin showing within 2 days of being exposed but may take as long as 14 days.

What should I do if I believe I may have 2019-nCoV?
Seek medical attention immediately. Call your doctor or local hospital and explain your situation to them. With it being prime season for the Flu and respiratory viruses, it is important to cooperate with medical professionals to reach a proper diagnosis. They may ask you some questions to help such as have you or anyone you have been in contact with recently traveled to China, answer these questions honestly.

What should I do if my business was exposed?
If you believe an infected person may have been in your business it is critical that you take the utmost precaution to avoid contamination or possible infection. The building should be closed, allowing no one inside until a full evaluation test can be conducted. The Coronavirus is not something that can be eliminated with standard cleaning products. Hospital-grade disinfectants need to be used in order to effectively treat surfaces and kill the virus. In addition, if proper protective gear is not worn there is a risk of infection to anyone who comes into contact with contaminated surfaces.

How can I disinfect my facility of Coronavirus?
Properly disinfecting and treating surfaces for Coronavirus is not something an untrained person should ever attempt. The process needs to be completed with extreme precaution and with the proper equipment. ServiceMaster Recovery Management has developed a comprehensive process for Coronavirus disinfection and has handled other coronavirus outbreaks, such as SARS, in the past. If you believe your facility may have been exposed to the Coronavirus, call SRM immediately.

What is the process for Coronavirus decontamination?
Our Coronavirus decontamination process starts with an analysis conducted by an industrial hygienist. The analysis will determine a decontamination protocol including the selection of the proper hospital-grade (and EPS-registered) disinfectants. Using these protocols, we develop a disinfection project plan. Each facility type is different, and it is important to make sure the disinfection plan is tailored to those specific needs.

Once we have the disinfection plan developed, we begin the process or treating and disinfecting the building. All of our technicians are trained and maintain the highest level of protective gear to make sure they are safe throughout the entire disinfection process. We use hospital-grade disinfectants and make sure each surface is treated for the required dwell time. Many companies fail to allow the correct amount of time for the disinfectant to sit on the surface which strongly reduces the disinfection capability. In addition to the direct cleaning and disinfection protocols, we utilize engineering controls and follow the CDC guidance on the proper use of air chambers and air scrubbing during the process. SRM ensures that product specifications are followed thereby providing the most effective disinfection possible.   

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