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Concerns about coronavirus

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  Posted by: The Probe      14th March 2020

It’s not often that the World Health Organization (WHO) considers declaring a virus an international public emergency. In fact, throughout the last decade or so, there have only been a few diseases that have sparked this level of concern, including outbreaks of ebola and swine flu.

However, at the time of writing, it looks like there will soon be another international threat to prepare against – coronavirus. Although the status of this virus has not yet been labelled as an international public emergency, it is looking increasingly likely that it will be in the near future. This means that places where diseases are easily transmitted, such as dental practices, need to be aware of the potential threat of this virus and what measures can be taken to limit the spread should an outbreak occur.

What is a coronavirus?

In basic terms, coronaviruses are a large group of common viruses that usually affect animals. These are not normally transmitted to humans, but in some rare instances these viruses can adapt and become infectious to us. In these cases, the viruses can be incredibly deadly, affecting our respiratory tracts and causing a host of symptoms such as fevers, headaches, runny noses and coughs, all of which can worsen and become potentially fatal.[i]

This new, mysterious strain of coronavirus, originating in China, is not the first strain we have experienced that is a threat to human lives. The Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) viral outbreak of 2003 was another type of coronavirus, which spread like wildfire across 32 different countries and left over 800 fatalities in its wake.[ii] Similarly, another strain of coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS), has caused 858 deaths across 27 countries since 2012.[iii]

Currently, this new strain of the disease that has never infected humans before is already causing a big impact. There have been thousands of cases and multiple deaths – numbers which are continuing to grow all the time. Some of these cases have been confirmed in countries outside of China, including the United States and Japan.[iv]

A lot of research is still being done to try to understand the virus better. Chinese officials have as of yet not been able to say where this strain originated from, though it is likely to have been transmitted to humans from animals as per the usual nature of coronaviruses. The incubation period (the time it takes for the disease to manifest as symptoms after catching it) is also thought to be mere days, rather than weeks.[v]

The first lines of defence

In response to the growing global concerns surrounding this viral outbreak, many countries, including the UK, are already putting certain measures in place. Airports are stepping up screening of passengers arriving from Wuhan, China. These screenings (where passengers are checked for a temperature/any other symptoms on arrival) are a good first defence as this can identify if the disease is crossing country borders, and passengers can be appropriately quarantined.

However, if these measures should fail and the virus starts to spread even further, dental professionals and other healthcare providers need to raise their guard.

Stopping infections spreading in your practice

Infection control is already a top priority in dental practices, but that doesn’t mean it’s not a good idea to see if there are ways you can streamline how this is achieved in your practice.

Finding cleaning and disinfection products that can destroy or deactivate the majority of viruses and bacteria is a fantastic first step. These products need to be used carefully throughout the whole practice, especially in waiting rooms and other areas that see a high level of footfall.

You must also take care to ensure that your dental instruments are properly decontaminated, especially as so many diseases can easily spread through saliva/infectious bodily fluids. One easy way to ensure that you keep on top of infection control is to choose a trusted, reliable autoclave such as one of the Little Sister range from Eschmann. All models in the Little Sister range have been designed to streamline the infection control process for staff and champion features such as rapid cycles and active drying so that instruments are ready to use exactly when you need them.

Next steps

As of yet, we cannot know exactly how this outbreak of coronavirus will progress. However, this outbreak does provide a good lesson and shows us the potential a virus has at becoming a global concern, as well as serving as a stark reminder that infection control is incredibly important for all of us.

By prioritising good quality cleaning products and investing in technology such as state-of-the-art autoclaves that help make infection control stress-free, you can do your best to protect the patients in your practice.

 

For more information on the highly effective and affordable range of decontamination equipment and products from Eschmann, please visit www.eschmann.co.uk or call 01903 875787

 

[i] CNN Health. Coronavirus Explained: What You Need To Know. Link: https://edition.cnn.com/2020/01/20/health/what-is-coronavirus-explained/index.html [Last accessed January 2020].

[ii] National Geographic. New Coronavirus Can Spread Between Humans – But It Started in a Wildlife Market. Link: https://www.nationalgeographic.com/science/2020/01/new-coronavirus-spreading-between-humans-how-it-started/ [Last accessed January 2020].

 

[iii] World Health Organization. Middle East Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus. Link: https://www.who.int/emergencies/mers-cov/en/ [Last accessed January 2020].

 

[iv] BBC News. Coronavirus: UK ‘To Monitor Flights From China’ As Precaution. Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51202216 [Last accessed January 2020].

 

[v] BBC News. Coronavirus: UK ‘To Monitor Flights From China’ As Precaution. Link: https://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-51202216 [Last accessed January 2020].

 


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