Updated: Aug 27, 2020
Environmental Monitoring for Coronavirus on Indoor Contact Surfaces:
Here are some useful guidelines and carefully developed best practices (published below) on cleanliness & viral environmental monitoring, trend analysis, risk assessment and remediation for the global pandemic.
For the full white paper and detailed sources, please contact Mike@brownsbiosecure.com
Contributions also from Charm Sciences.
Thank you for the above company collaborations.
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Developing a viral environmental monitoring program
We can help by monitoring SARS-CoV-2 on common touch surfaces
We can also show surface cleanliness reports, trends, and compliance
Transmission of COVID-19 primarily occurs when respiratory droplets from sneezes or coughs from infected people spread to those in close proximity
People may also contract the virus from infected animals (both domestic and non-domestic)
People may contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface or object and then subsequently touching their own mouth, nose, or eyes.
Why Monitor your Environment?
Infected individuals can shed virus particles onto inanimate surfaces
Such surfaces are called fomites
Hard surfaces and equipment are especially vulnerable to such contamination
The virus can be spread by asymptomatic, pre-symptomatic, and symptomatic individuals who are infected with the virus
Infected individuals likely start shedding the virus up to 48 hours before the onset of symptoms.
Since the virus can survive up to 72 hours on inanimate objects, disease transmission can occur from contact with contaminated hard surfaces and equipment
According to a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, SARS-CoV-2 Coronavirus was detectable on cardboard for up to 24 hours and 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel.
The apparent longevity of the virus on surfaces and the risk potential of such contaminated surfaces, highlights the importance of environmental monitoring for virus detection
Even in the absence of employees being symptomatic or testing positive for COVID-19, the risk of cross-contamination from surfaces is real
Implement an Environmental Monitoring Program to monitor for and mitigate against the transmission of SARS-CoV-2 from your environment to your clients, employees, visitors, guests and patients.
Conducting Coronavirus Environmental Sampling
Survey your facility for risk related to highly-trafficked touch points and personnel hygienic practices
Determine how you will react to information generated from your sampling plan:
Many industries implement an Environmental Monitoring Program (EMP). An EMP helps detect pathogens and allergens to determine if sanitation programs and personal hygiene practices are effective against cross-contamination
A coronavirus EMP plan including Charm SARS-CoV-2 Surface Swabs will help indicate if SARS-CoV-2 is being transferred on contact surfaces and equipment in your indoor area
To determine if SARS-CoV-2 is present on contact surfaces and equipment and to establish a baseline of your environment’s current state, you should sample your environment during or at the end of each shift
If you choose to sample at the end of each shift you should do so before cleaning and sanitation takes place in order to establish a true baseline.
A coronavirus EMP plan is a lagging indicator of risk in the environment given that time-to-result is 48 hours upon laboratory sample receipt.
Laboratory ordering enquiries are welcomed: https://www.brownsbiosecure.com/get-a-quote
When you receive a positive result, it’s important to conduct additional testing directly after cleaning and sanitation to determine if your procedures are working effectively to remove the risk associated with SARS-CoV-2 present in your environment.
A well-designed routine coronavirus EMP will include multiple samples from various areas throughout the indoor area or facility. It’s important to understand that the size of the space does not necessarily dictate the number of specimens that should be collected. Rather, the number of identified high-risk commonly touched surfaces should dictate the number of sampling sites.
Environmental Monitoring Flow Chart
What To Do With High Risk Sampling Sites
Conditions which may impact the sample results, should be documented such as the following:
An employee testing positive for COVID-19
Changes to cleaning and sanitation practices,
Positive or negative pressure airflow
Facility and other indoor maintenance
High-risk sampling sites may include but are not limited to railings, arm-rests, time clocks, doors, latches, screens, tables, hand washing stations, shared keyboards, shared equipment and utensils, break rooms, locker rooms, touch-screens, buttons, etc.
Recommended Sampling Sites Based on Risk
of SARS-CoV-2 Transmission
Monitoring Touch Points to Answer Important Questions
Does coronavirus exist in my indoor environment?
Is my routine cleaning and sanitation program eliminating the threat of coronavirus?
Where is coronavirus stemming from (employees, guests, maintenance, incoming receivables, etc.)?
Do I have an active asymptomatic employee shedding virus in the workplace?
We offer a comprehensive service solution to screen for a broad range of SARS-related coronaviruses, as well as a confirmation assay for SARS-CoV-2
Environmental monitoring programs should include detailed records. We recommend the following records be kept in order to establish an accurate baseline of your environment:
Date and time of sampling
Name of the person collecting the sample
Predetermined sample locations and sample site map
Date submitted to laboratory
Review your results
Data tracking and trending of results
Corrective actions, if needed
Baseline & Trend Tracking & Positive Results
Collect preliminary data for each location and determine if coronavirus is currently present in your environment.
Trending this data will help you determine if you have coronavirus being introduced to your environment and across which work-shifts the introduction is occurring.
If you receive positive tests for the coronavirus, your environment requires corrective action. In the event of a positive sample, intensified cleaning and sanitation should take place in the area, as well as re-sampling.
When your know your environment is going out of control, you can react with appropriate corrective actions quickly.
An environmental monitoring program should clearly define what "control" looks like in your organization in terms that can be easily articulated to your community.
When testing for coronavirus (CoV) with the screening assay and choosing not to confirm for SARS-CoV-2 with the identification assay, then you should treat a presumptive positive result for general CoV as if it were SARS-CoV-2.
Vector swabbing entails taking additional environmental samples around the initial positive site and done in a 'starburst' pattern.
Resample positive sampling sites & take vector samples in the surrounding areas where positive tests were found. If a swab taken from a mechanical room bench top is suspect, the bench top is re-swabbed along with the bench top drawer handles, adjacent tools, & surrounding bench top(s).
When considering where to take vector samples, consider the fact that a sneeze or cough can spread virus through respiratory droplets over a large distance (>20 feet), so take vector samples well beyond the known contamination site.
If any of the additional testing days give an unacceptable result, routines in the area should cease until evidence demonstrates compliance. Sites with multiple out of specification results in a row are habitual contamination sites and have occupant(s) shedding the virus in constant contact.
These sites should be thoroughly examined to consider:
disinfection protocol efficacy
Location / workplace / facility segregation
Corrective actions should be taken if cleaning and sanitizing steps do not prevent coronavirus from being found on sampling sites
For high-risk organizations, such as healthcare facilities, the World Health Organization recommends conducting daily consecutive testing of positive sampling sites and surrounding areas until 7 consecutive days of negative results are achieved.
If the problem persists, consider:
eliminating or redesigning the contaminated contact surface or object
revising your disinfection protocol
attempting to identify the person shedding virus into the indoor area
For non-high-risk organizations, conduct daily consecutive testing of positive sampling sites and surrounding areas until 3 consecutive days of negative results are achieved. Once remediation has been proven effective by meeting the aforementioned recommendations, return to normal sampling frequency
ABOUT BROWN'S BIOSECURE LTD.
The Director is Mike Brown who has 12 years experience working with cleaners, disinfectants, sanitizers and regulatory affairs for a major global manufacturer. Mike is also certified as an Advanced Food Safety Trainer (A079124) and can be reached at Mike@brownsbiosecure.com
Contact Brown's Biosecure Ltd. for your viral detection and viral defense needs. Brown’s Biosecure Ltd. is a partner of Charm Sciences. Charm is a leader in Canadian food safety verification.