The risk of infection via surfaces and the new coronavirus

Whiteley Corporation

Tuesday, 30 June, 2020

Many people are concerned about the risk of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) transmissibility via contaminated surfaces. Although many viral pathogens cannot live for long outside a human or animal host, some viruses can and do survive for prolonged periods on contaminated surfaces. Based on current information, SARS-CoV-2 sits somewhere in the middle of the risk zone for surface survival and transmission.

Whiteley Corporation has conducted a huge number of disinfectant tests against a wide array of infectious viruses and other microorganisms over the past 40 years. We have a long history of disinfectant and cleaning product research especially through collaborative research programs, including virucidal testing. This knowledge frames the important factors to note about COVID-19 with respect to cleaning processes and the use of disinfectants.

This collaborative work is ongoing, looking at an array of different applied microbiology and infection risk factors. The $6 million project and IMCRC Grant through the School of Medical Science at the University of Sydney is a current example of Whiteley Corporation exploring improved hygiene and safe disinfectants through world best practice research and development. Once a breakthrough is made, products can then be commercialised, registered and manufactured through the TGA-licensed Whiteley facility at Tomago in the Hunter Region, NSW.

Part of the issue when researching in this field, is not to destroy surfaces or adversely affect staff or medical equipment with unnecessarily strong disinfectants such as highly concentrated chlorine solutions. At Whiteley Corporation we are constantly looking into novel solutions that overcome known risks such as microbial resistance and biofilm contamination, while maintaining the best possible level of materials compatibility.

Research funded by Whiteley Corporation has shown that once on surfaces, superbugs can be transmitted to many other surfaces via contaminated hands and fingers. It is therefore essential that appropriate hand hygiene with a TGA-approved alcohol-based hand rub be used after touching any potentially contaminated surface. These products are also part of the Whiteley research framework and manufacturing capacity.

Following the simple guidelines of washing your hands regularly and cleaning all high-touch surfaces regularly will reduce the risk of cross infection from infectious microorganisms including superbugs and the coronavirus.

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