Do bad things really come in threes? The answer is definitely ‘yes’ in terms of respiratory infection rates, and what experts have coined a ‘tripledemic’ of influenza, RSV and COVID-19.
Covid-19, flu and RSV have combined to create a tripledemic.
The uptake of respiratory infection is something industry leaders need to consider in terms of workplace safety. It’s clear to see that the tripledemic illnesses influenza, RSV and COVID-19 are not going away any time soon. Cleaning for health is the only way to ensure safe workplaces in all facilities. In this article, we’ll go over the basics of the tripledemic, transmission, and also how it’s being handled. Of course, we’ll later dive into a discussion of good manufacturing processes that help kick-start our thinking about how effective cleaning actually happens.
Everyone wants to go back to ‘business as usual’, but with the concerning rates of respiratory infection spreading globally, what can industry cleaning experts do better, to serve you better? It’s time to clear up some industry cleaning misconceptions while we’re at it. Let’s get started.
What is RSV?
Respiratory syncytial virus (RSV) causes infections of the lungs and respiratory tract. It can cause severe infections in infants 12 months or less, but can also affect adults with a weak immune system or pre-existing condition (heart or lung disease). Health Canada states that those at highest risk are children and immunocompromised people. However, anyone can be susceptible to RSV, and an adult may experience typical flu symptoms. You know the drill: runny nose, cough, sore throat, fatigue, fever and sneezing.
RSV is spread in the typical way that respiratory diseases travel: direct contact, airborne droplets and contaminated surfaces. Once there, RSV can spend several hours on hard surfaces, waiting for its next host (your hand, and then your eye!) to pick it up.
Tripledemic: How Did We Get Here?
It’s clear that COVID-19 is no longer the lone star, with various health advisories now warning of a tripledemic of influenza, COVID-19 and RSV. A triple-whammy. Since health experts aren’t sure the severity or how long this will last, it’s best to prepare for the worst case, especially since people’s lives may be at risk.
Industry professionals have a unique opportunity to partner with facility maintenance crews such as TEAM Group, in order to improve the processes that help stop the spread of these illnesses.
Experts speculate the higher rate of respiratory infection at present is in part due to a natural decrease in immunity.
The need and motivation to clean is clear, but how did we get here? As most of us know very well, the outbreak of COVID forced people to stay indoors and discouraged (and at times outlawed!) them from socializing in order to slow the spread of COVID-19. Due to this, flu cases were dramatically low in 2020 and 2021. This means that hygiene practices such as frequent disinfection and hand-washing, and of course social-distancing – actually worked! These measures slowed the spread of COVID-19 and other diseases as well.
While social-distancing and lockdowns were in place, we were less exposed to other pathogens as our bodies did not come into contact with them as often. Now that restrictions have lifted, respiratory infection is on the rise because socializing and travel are once again encouraging diseases to prosper. Once people get moving, this gives viruses a chance to follow.
Respiratory Illnesses: Where to Begin
Facilities and businesses around the world and across industries are now face to face with a tripledemic. To take immediate action to reduce the spread of respiratory infection is necessary, as these illnesses spread quickly wherever people interact. However, some could argue that still, not enough is being done, and that cleaning methods are still falling short. Afterall, COVID-19 is still running rampant on the global scale years after its first emergence.
This creates the case for a new way of approaching cleaning and disinfection. High touch surfaces continue to be a source of transmission at home and work. With RSV posing a highest risk to children and those most vulnerable in our communities, there is also a large push to improve our methodologies when it comes to effective cleaning.
The question we ask now is, with all the cleaning methods, chemicals, and procedures available, how can we decipher or create the best cleaning method to reduce the effects of the novel tripledemic?
A Push for an Effective Clean
The pandemic put everyone’s awareness of germs on over-drive. However, how much has safety really improved? The unsystematic spraying of chemicals does little to reduce the risk of transmission. What’s more, human error also plays into this. This is why UV robots and other technology used in conjunction to cleaning technicians is a novel trend that many sectors – especially healthcare – are adopting now.
This is a good sign, because we cannot let our guard down now, and definitely not during a tripledemic. Regular, multi-technology and targeted hygiene practices are the best response facilities can take. In most cases, working alongside an industrial cleaning company such as TEAM Group, can take a lot of pressure off businesses. Contracting complete facility cleaning services takes the guess work out of following protocols, getting to know new technology, and setting up a schedule. Let TEAM work with you to find out your needs – we’ll take care of the mess.
Cleaning the Right Way
People want to be reassured that the places they visit, and the areas they work in are clean. The pandemic has changed the way we feel about respiratory infection forever. Even with multiple COVID-19 and variant vaccine roll-outs, 57% of people who are vaccinated are still ‘very concerned’ with germs, and 72% of people state that they intend to follow strict cleaning and disinfection procedures. For facilities, cleaning cannot and should not be based on haphazard methods, but rather on scientific and risk-assessed protocols. This is where TEAM Group comes in. Our trained technicians will create a cleaning plan specific to you facility environment while considering your hygiene needs.
It’s indeed difficult to predict when an ill person will enter your workplace, or where every single high-touch surface exists on the premises.
Businesses seeking to set best practices should consider the following:
Germs are invisible, so some surfaces need to be disinfected as well as cleaned, as it is hard for businesses to ascertain if someone carrying an illness may have entered their premises. Rather than simply creating hygiene theater and carrying out unnecessary large-scale disinfection, businesses should implement targeted hygiene protocols that are informed by science and break the chain of infection.
These protocols should be centered around cleaning and disinfecting high-touch surfaces such as door handles, elevator buttons, reception desks, bannisters and escalator handles particularly within high-traffic areas, amongst other appropriate measures such as encouraging staff and customers to wash or sanitize their hands at critical times, for example upon arrival at the premises. If the office operates hot-desking, then it is key to disinfect these areas before the start of each day.
Remove first and organic matter from surfaces. This method uses soaps or detergents.
If product is designed to sanitize or disinfect (more below) then it is regulated by the EPA.
Remove / kill bacteria on surfaces using chemicals. This method is not used for killing viruses.
Remove / kill bacteria and viruses using chemicals.
Kill pathogens on hands (skin, nails).
TEAM Group’s total facility services for health facilities are top-grade in the industry. We provide full-service facility cleaning support. Our tier 3 enhanced cleaning service can be tailored to your needs and include whatever methods you need for your facility. This can include tailored COVID-19 or respiratory illness such as RSV – facility support. TEAM’s COVID-19 Cleaning services can be adapted to your needs, and the needs of the current global situation.
Consumers and staff alike want to live in a cleaner, safer world and have the confidence to leave home and return to work, retail and hospitality — and businesses should help protect them as much as possible. As an industry we have a collective responsibility to make hygiene theater a relic of the past and make hygiene a sustainable and effective solution to help protect us all.