DISINFACTS | Issue 2/2020

Prevention is the number one priority What can we learn from the coronavirus pandemic? This is how to protect yourself and others! Nothing is as old as yesterday’s news: this aphorism is truer than ever. What we know about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the respiratory infection COVID-19 that it triggers is growing day by day. Nevertheless, we can – in April 2020 and thus more than four months after the first case – draw an initial conclusion. What have we learnt to date from the coronavirus pandemic? One thing is certain: when neither vaccines nor specific therapies are available, as is the case with SARS-CoV-2 and COVID-19 now, prevention is the number one priority. Preventing further infections is the primary method for tackling an emerging pathogen. Modified social behaviour and the isolation of those who are infected or are possibly infected (quarantining) must be considered to prevent infections. However, it is primarily (occupational) protective and hygiene measures adapted to the risk of transmission – the systematic use of basic hygiene including hand hygiene – that can make a substantial contribution to containing an outbreak, both in professional medical and personal settings. Current information about the novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 and the lung disease COVID-19 is available on the BODE SCIENCE CENTER website. www.bode-science-center. com This is because previous experience with SARS-CoV-2 shows that indirect transmission by contaminated hands or surfaces is possible (1). However, transmission occurs particularly during close, unprotected contact between people (e.g. in domestic or medical/nursing settings) (1). Transmission takes place mainly via respiratory secretions (droplets and aerosols, such as when someone coughs or sneezes) and during medical interventions that generate aerosols (e.g. bronchoscopy). As a matter of principle: • wash your hands thoroughly or disinfect them • do not touch your eyes or mouth with unclean hands • keep your distance from others (social distancing) • avoid shaking hands • practise sneezing and coughing etiquette (cough and sneeze into a tissue or your elbow) • discard used tissues into a closed rubbish bin If you have a fever, are coughing or suspect that you are infected: • stay at home, avoid social contact (quarantine) • for social contacts: wear a mask that covers your mouth and nose, a surgical mask or a medical face mask (to protect the people around you) • common COVID-19 symptoms (3): coughing, fever, runny or stuffy nose, sore throat, shortness of breath For occupational activities involving possible contact with germs: • Use personal protective equipment (PPE): long-sleeved water-resistant gown, disposable gloves, goggles and a respirator (FFP2 mask; during activities involving patients with a severe cough or that generate aerosols: FFP3 mask) (2). For disinfection/cleaning: • Use disinfectants with a ‘limited virucidal’ spectrum of activity. Another option: Products with an extended spectrum of activity ‘limited virucidal PLUS’ / ‘virucidal’ (1) Sources: 1) Robert Koch Institute. Recommendations by the Robert Koch Institute for hygiene measures in the treatment of patients with an infection due to SARS-CoV-2 (dated 13 March 2020). Link: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Hygiene.html 2) Committee on Biological Agents (ABAS) of the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAUA). Answers to frequently asked questions about SARS-CoV-2. Link: https://www.baua.de/DE/Themen/Arbeitsgestaltung-im-Betrieb/Biostoffe/FAQ/FAQ_node.html 3) Robert Koch Institute. SARS-CoV-2 Steckbrief zur Coronavirus-Krankheit-2019 (COVID-19) (dated: 23 March 2020). Link: https://www.rki.de/DE/Content/InfAZ/N/Neuartiges_Coronavirus/Steckbrief.html#doc13776792bodyText2 KNOWLEDGE DISINFACTS 2/20 page 8