As more states are experiencing increased COVID-19 cases, and as we watch, read and listen to news reports about Victoria and the myriad of cases internationally, we’re reminded that proper hygiene and common courtesy is a proven and effective tool in mitigating the spread of coronaviruses.
Cleaning is an essential part of disinfection because dirt and grime can inactivate many disinfectants. Cleaning reduces the amount of dirt and so allows the disinfectant to work. Removal of germs such as the virus that causes COVID-19 requires thorough cleaning followed by disinfection.
The length of time the virus that causes COVID-19 can survive on inanimate surfaces varies depending on factors such as the amount of contaminated body fluid (e.g. respiratory droplets) or soiling present, and environmental temperature and humidity.
Coronaviruses can survive on surfaces for many hours or more but are readily inactivated by cleaning and disinfection.
It is good practice to routinely clean surfaces as follows:
- clean frequently touched surfaces with detergent solution
- clean general surfaces and fittings when visibly soiled and immediately after any spillage.
All strata owners have a duty of care to ensure their property is a safe environment that doesn’t pose a potential risk to the health and safety of neighbours and anyone who visits.
This duty of care extends to contractors or employees to ensure safe workplaces for people carrying out essential maintenance.
With many people still working from home, the need for essential services at properties such as sanitising and disinfectant cleaning, garbage disposal services and plumbing has never been more important.
Now is definitely the time to keep up with frequent high-grade cleaning services in common areas and high-touch surfaces.
Cleaning and policy changes in your building may include:
Delivery of parcels to your unit
You may be required to instruct the courier to leave the parcel at the front of your apartment door, not in the lobby area. You will need to arrange how they get access to your floor, etc.
Visitors and visitors parking
To manage the risk of exposure to other residents, the Committee may recommend restriction on the number of social visitors in line with government protocols, but certainly the visitor’s carparks will be restricted for use by essential services like Doctors and Medical Services as a priority, etc.
You may be asked not to use the chute or rubbish room and to double bag the rubbish from your bin. Alternate collection methods may need to be
implemented while you are house bound.
The Committee may require you to make alternate arrangements for the delivery of mail.
The Committee may determine new access times (hours of operation and closure) of shared community facilities, such as pools and gyms, or shut them completely.
Shared laundry facilities
Restricted use and/or closure of facilities may extend to communal laundries if residents do not adhere to the Government guidelines. Residents should be encouraged to take protective measures, such as wearing gloves, washing their hands, not touching their face and disinfecting all surfaces of the machines they use. Maintain social distancing. Recommend use of the hot water setting and use of laundry detergents that contain a bleach compound. To ensure delicate items aren’t damaged, use delicate bags, etc.
Meetings & communication
The Committee may implement new meeting and communication protocols to minimise the potential spread of the virus and enable decisions of the Committee to continue to be made by an alternate means, such as via teleconference, online meetings, ballots, etc.
Building maintenance & services
The Committee may determine to increase or reduce services to the building to minimise risks to residents, such as changes to cleaning regimes and waste collection; for example, if all residents are staying home and the rubbish generated increases. Committees may also consider employing security guards if there is a power failure and the entry/exit security systems stops working or garage doors, etc.
The above is not exhaustive, however. Everyone needs to exercise vigilance and maintain good hygiene practices – not just the strata community.
Hand hygiene is the single most important way to prevent the spread of infection:
- soap and water can be used for hand hygiene at any time and should be used when hands are visibly soiled
- alcohol-based hand rub (sanitiser) can be used if soap and water are not readily accessible, except when hands are visibly soiled.
- cleaning hands regularly also helps to reduce environmental contamination.
- Wash your hands before and after eating, and after going to the toilet
Sneeze/cough etiquette and respiratory hygiene is the best defence against respiratory viruses:
- cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue and dispose of tissue immediately.
- or cough/sneeze into the bend of your elbow.
- wash your hands or use alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
Speak with the strata managing agent or strata committee if you are concerned about hygiene.