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Delia Cannings: Just saying

Taking on invisible enemies

Our columnist has been back on the NHS frontline as a new wave of patients stretch staff and resources in hospitals across the UK

It’s good news that the vaccines are being rolled out and the UK is leading the field in its execution of the plan to provide protection for all, particularly the most vulnerable. But as we look forward to some release from lockdown measures, virulent sister strains of Covid-19 have raised their ugly mushes in what looks like a bid to make the task as difficult as possible!

I have been hands-on for months now, back on the tools within the NHS, proud to be working side by side with dedicated professionals. Sadly, I see colleagues becoming broken through sheer exhaustion, mental and physical fatigue, bone weary as they hold the hands of patients who are alone in their hour of need, and yet still behind the mask they smile.

Vaccine or not, we simply cannot relent, we must continue to be vigilant, to embrace the guidelines, to acknowledge the government’s advice and to practice simple things like Hands, Face, Space, follow the rules, and YES, please challenge those who don’t.

However is this enough?

Our regimes need to be extremely tight, frequencies of cleaning increased, a two-stage process of cleaning and
disinfecting practiced, colour coded disposable clothes and mopheads used and a systematic cleaning process
followed. Personal protective equipment must be changed regularly and spent solutions disposed of correctly,
and all equipment used decontaminated.
Training in all things cleaning related remains the number one priority to ensure our cleaning workforces are
equipped to contribute to the health of the nation. Never has this been more important than now as selected
chains of hotels will provide an essential service as the government’s quarantine regulations commence.

Ventilation Contamination

Ventilation systems can hide a dangerous collection of contaminants

And yet I remain concerned about our buildings and the unseen surfaces and systems such as ventilation, extraction, fans, filters and ducting, to name a few. These systems require regular cleaning to prevent the build-up of soils which will be derived from numerous sources including organic, inorganic, particulate, abrasive and adhesive substances. Cleaning to reduce the risk of subsequent redistribution of potential contamination is a real concern as these soils can become airborne.

Fibre from linen, towels, curtains, bedding and carpets as well as shed skin, and even body fat are an unseen menace until they accumulate and solidify. Then, when moistened through humidity, a fabulous feasting ground is created with an abundance of valuable nutriments to support the growth of many harmful microorganisms.

So regardless of whether you are cleaning the filter on a vacuum, the blades on a fan or indeed engaging specialists to cleanse your ventilation, extract, or ducting system. Please take the time to consider this fact: that the cost of doing it is minimal, the cost of not doing it massive.

Make sure your risk assessments reference the steps you are taking regarding air quality and minimising the risk factor.

Take good care of yourself and stay safe.

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