Keeping living spaces clean and sanitary is an important part of preventing the spread of COVID-19 alongside diligent hand washing and using sanitizer, Taichung Veterans General Hospital physician Chen Po-yan (陳伯彥) said on Monday.
SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, is spread through respiratory droplets or through contact with a contaminated surface, Chen said.
Due to the risk of infection through contact with surfaces, hand washing immediately after the removal of outdoor clothing and footwear is important to avoid the risk of spreading the virus in the home, he said.
Photo: Liu Hsiao-hsin, Taipei Times
People are advised to maintain good personal hygiene, and avoid sharing dishes and utensils, as well as regularly cleaning and sanitizing shared areas of the home, he said.
A 75 percent alcohol solution or chlorine solution can sanitize surfaces and kill SARS-CoV-2, but these materials are ineffective against noroviruses and enteroviruses, he said.
Therefore, bleach should be used to clean surfaces, he said, adding that it is especially important to sanitize surfaces that are frequently touched, such as doorknobs, toilet handles and faucets.
A 75 percent alcohol solution renders SARS-CoV-2 cells inactive, Tainan Municipal An-Nan Hospital physician Chen Hung-yu (陳泓毓) said.
However, because bleach and other chlorine solutions contain hypochlorous acid — which destroys protein structures — they can inhibit the virus’ activity, Chen Hung-yu said.
Alcohol-based sanitizers are generally more convenient to carry outside — particularly as they evaporate quickly — and so are best used for sanitizing hands and smaller items, he said.
However, soap and warm water should be used to clean blood or other body fluids from the skin, as alcohol solution is not as effective, he said.
Bleach is best for disinfecting rooms, with a ratio of 500 parts per million (ppm) sufficient for most surfaces, he said, adding that 5,000ppm could be used on particularly dirty surfaces or where blood was present.
Food-grade chlorine (sodium hypochlorite) can disinfect fresh produce, but the ratio should not exceed 100ppm and the chlorine should be washed away before consumption, he said.
Chlorine solutions should be used within 24 hours after mixing, and should be kept away from direct sunlight and high heat, he said.
As bleach and other chlorine solutions can cause skin and respiratory system reactions, contact should be kept to a minimum and avoided entirely for people with allergies, Chen Hung-yu said, adding that the solutions should be applied with a cloth, not sprayed.
People can fight viruses by supporting their immune system through proper sleep, adequate exercise and a balanced diet, he said.
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