Here is an addition to the infection control course you undertook at Local Care Force (as part of your mandatory training). Please read the course to update your training and contact us if you have any questions on firstname.lastname@example.org. In addition please watch the below video, which outlines main points around coronavirus, and then read through the following advice and guidance.
What is it?
COVID-19 is a new illness that can affect your lungs and airways. It’s caused by a virus called coronavirus.
Common signs of infection include respiratory symptoms, fever and cough, shortness of breath and breathing difficulties. In more severe cases, infection can cause pneumonia, severe acute respiratory syndrome, kidney failure and even death.
The symptoms of Coronavirus are:
• A cough
• A high temperature
• Shortness of breath
But these symptoms do not necessarily mean you have the illness.
The symptoms are similar to other illnesses that are much more common, such as cold and flu.
How it is spread
From what we know about other Coronaviruses, spread of COVID-19 is most likely to happen when there is close contact (within 2 metres) with an infected person. It is likely that the risk increases the longer someone has close contact with an infected person.
Respiratory secretions containing the virus are most likely to be the most important means of transmission; these are produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes, in the same way colds spread.
There are 2 main routes by which people can spread COVID-19:
• Infection can be spread to people who are nearby (within 2 metres) or possibly could be inhaled into the lungs
• It is also possible that someone may become infected by touching a surface, object or the hand of an infected person that has been contaminated with respiratory secretions and then touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes (such as touching door knob or shaking hands then touching own face). Our current understanding is that the virus doesn’t survive on surfaces for longer than 72 hours.
There is currently little evidence that people without symptoms are infectious to others.
Standard recommendations to prevent infection spread include regular hand washing, covering mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing, thoroughly cooking meat and eggs. Avoid close contact with anyone showing symptoms of respiratory illness such as coughing and sneezing.
How long the virus can survive?
How long any respiratory virus survives will depend on a number of factors, for example:
• what surface the virus is on
• whether it is exposed to sunlight
• differences in temperature and humidity
• exposure to cleaning products
Under most circumstances, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 72 hours.
Regular cleaning of frequently-touched hard surfaces and hands will therefore help to reduce the risk of infection.
Treatment for Coronavirus
There is currently no specific treatment for Coronavirus. Antibiotics do not help, as they do not work against viruses. Treatment aims to relieve the symptoms while your body fights the illness. You’ll need to stay in isolation away from other people until you’ve recovered.
General infection control
Preventing the spread of infection
There is currently no vaccine to prevent COVID-19. The best way to prevent infection is to avoid being exposed to the virus.
There are general principles anyone can follow to help prevent the spread of respiratory viruses, including:
• Washing your hands often – with soap and water, or use alcohol sanitiser that contains at least 60% alcohol if handwashing facilities are not available – this is particularly important after taking public transport.
• Covering your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throwing the tissue in a bin. See Catch It, Bin It, Kill It
• People who feel unwell should stay at home and should not attend work
• Employees should wash their hands:
• before leaving home
• on arrival at work
• after using the toilet
• after breaks and sporting activities
• before food preparation
• before eating any food, including snacks
• before leaving work
• on arrival at home
• avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands
• clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces
The chain of infection
In order for the spread of infectious diseases to take place the `chain of infection` must be completed.
Routes of entry
Eyes, mouth, nose, urogenital openings, wounds, bites that breach skin barrier.
What does self-isolating mean?
If you have been told to self-isolate, you need to stay indoors and avoid contact with other people for 14 days.
It is important to follow the advice for the whole period, even if you do not have any symptoms.
- stay at home
- separate yourself from other people – for example, try not to be in the same room as other people at the same time
- only allow people who live with you to stay
- stay in a well-ventilated room with a window that can be opened
- ask friends, family members or delivery services to carry out errands for you, such as getting groceries, medicines or other shopping
- make sure you tell delivery drivers to leave items outside for collection if you order online
- clean toilets and bathrooms regularly
- think about a bathroom rota if a separate bathroom is not available, with the isolated person using the facilities last, before thoroughly cleaning the bathroom themselves
- use separate towels from anyone else in the household
- wash crockery and utensils thoroughly with soap and water; dishwashers may be used to clean crockery and cutlery
- stay away from your pets – if unavoidable, wash your hands before and after contact
- do not invite visitors to your home or allow visitors to enter
- do not go to work, school or public areas
- do not use public transport like buses, trains, tubes or taxis
- do not share dishes, drinking glasses, cups, eating utensils, towels, bedding or other items with other people in your home
What if I develop symptoms?
If you get a cough, a fever or shortness of breath, call NHS 111 and tell them you have been asked to self-isolate because of coronavirus.
Even if the symptoms seem mild, it is better to call for advice.
What to do about work or other responsibilities
During an outbreak, it is important to reduce the risk of further spread of the infection. This will require understanding and support from employers, family members and friends.
It can help to:
- talk to those around you, including your employer, about the importance of self-isolation to reduce the risk of spreading infection at work; if you are well, you may be able to work from home
- make plans with your family and friends on how to manage shopping, dropping children to schools and events
- ask people not to visit your home while you’re self-isolating; if you need a healthcare or care visit at home during this time, tell them in advance that you are self-isolating so they can follow their local employer’s guidance
I am finding this hard, what should I do?
For some people self-isolation can be boring or frustrating. You may find your mood and feelings being affected and you may feel low, worried or have problems sleeping.
There are simple things you can do that may help, such as staying in touch with friends and relatives on the phone or by social media and you may find it helpful to talk to them, if you want to.
- Single use aprons & gloves for every episode of patient care. Clean uniforms.
- Gloves must be used for invasive procedures; contact with sterile sites and non-intact skin or mucous membranes; all activities that have been assessed as carrying a risk of exposure to blood or body fluids; and when handling sharps or contaminated devices (Epic3, 2014).
- Goggles for contact with blood, body fluids, excretion, secretions, and items soiled
- Use and disposal of sharps – never re-sheath a needle, seal when sharps box reaches safe line.
- Safe disposal of disposable of waste / linen – bag at source
- Isolate the patient in a single room (contact the Infection Control team if this cannot be achieved).
- Isolation notice on door or beside bed space
- Hand washing and alcohol gel, plus disposable apron & gloves before entering and before leaving the bed space (visitors to do same)
- Visitors should not use patient’s bathroom.
- Dispose of dressings, aprons and gloves in room, & wash gel hands before leaving
- Change linen / patient clothes daily (safe disposal)
- Charts records located outside the room
- Deep clean between patients