Laundry is critical as Covid-19 survives on healthcare uniforms for up to three days.
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As reported by the BBC, scientists at the De Montford University have been conducting an in-depth study of viruses with similar structures and survival patterns to Covid-19. The research was led by a team of microbiologist and virologist experts who monitored the stability of virus traces over 72 hours and evaluated different infection control methods. The results strongly reinforce the need for all healthcare workers’ uniforms to be washed on-site and using appropriate commercial or industrial washing machines.
The University discovered that the virus can survive on polyester for 72 hours, on cotton for 24 hour and on poly-cotton for 6 hours. The scientists contaminated various textiles with virus traces and analysed different wash methods, using varying temperatures with both domestic and commercial/ industrial laundry machines. The results demonstrated that domestic machines did not fully remove the virus from contaminated textiles and that the water dilution and agitation was insufficient as a means of infection control. Their findings concluded that it necessitated detergent and a temperature of at least 67C for the virus to be efficiently killed.
Encouragingly, the research showed that the virus did not transmit to other items within the wash load. However, traces can transfer from uniforms to other surfaces and consequently it is crucial that uniforms do not leave the healthcare environment and are processed in laundry machines that will reach the requisite high temperatures to ensure that there is no onward transmission. Dr Laird, Microbiologist and Head of Infectious Disease Research Group, is quoted on the University’s website as saying,
Our findings show that three of the most commonly used textiles in healthcare pose a risk of transmission of the virus. If nurses and healthcare workers take their uniforms home, they could be leaving traces of virus on other surfaces.
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