“Even though omicron so far seems to result in milder disease than previous variants, Omicron continues to spread and, a massive increase in cases, could still lead to a big increase in hospitalizations and deaths. That could further stress health care systems that are already in dire straits. That’s why Omicron certainly has the potential to delay endemicity.” Angela Rasmussen (Virologist at University of Saskatchewan, Canada).
The concept known as “endemicity,” refers to a certain time when a circulating virus continues to disseminate through a population, but in a manageable way (without steep waves of outbreaks that beat hospital capacity and death cases increment), like regular flu.
Although we’ve certainly come a long way since March 2020 as we have discovered more information about how Covid-19 works, we must fortify (or even modify) our safety behaviors during the omicron surge and for the upcoming years until Covid-19 becomes endemic.
So, what does that mean for healthcare providers?
It is by now well known that the COVID-19 virus has two main routes of transmission: Respiratory and contact.
Respiratory droplets are generated when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Any person who is in close contact with someone who has respiratory symptoms (for example, sneezing, coughing) is at risk of being exposed to potentially infective respiratory droplets. Droplets may also land on surfaces where the virus could remain viable; thus, the immediate environment of an infected individual can serve as a source of transmission (known as contact transmission).
It is not certain how long the virus that causes COVID-19 survives on surfaces, but it seems likely to behave like other coronaviruses. A recent review of the survival of human coronaviruses on surfaces found large variability, ranging from 2 hours to 9 days. The survival time depends on different factors such as the type of surface, temperature, and strain of the virus.
So, in order to avoid Covid-19 transmission in your medical practice, all healthcare professionals in direct contact with their patients need to become stricter regarding the medical equipment and protocols that are used both on themselves and with patients, specifically avoiding reusable medical diagnosing tools that can get easily contaminated (both via respiratory or contact routes) and/or not sterilized properly (according to CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention), Major reasons for infection transmission in patients were inadequate cleaning, improper selection of a disinfecting agent, and failure to follow cleaning and disinfection procedures for medical devices).
Think of reusable Wartenberg metal Pinwheels. This diagnostic tool has an intricate geometry with several spikes which can make sterilization a difficult task that cannot assure the total surface is properly disinfected in a short time (for example, in between patient appointments). Each use of this reusable tool is an opportunity for the virus to spread even faster and put your patients at high risk.
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Water, sanitation, hygiene, and waste management for the COVID-19 virus Technical brief 3 March 2020