Based on what is currently known about the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) and similar coronaviruses that cause SARS (Sudden Acute Respiratory Syndrome) and MERS (Middle East Respiratory Syndrome), the most common method of transmission is person-to-person, specifically contact within about 6 feet (1.82 meters). This type of transmission occurs via respiratory droplets.
At this time, according to the US Department of Labor, there is not enough evidence to substantiate the claim that COVID-19 is spread through environmental exposure, such as coming into contact with contaminated surfaces. There is typically no need to perform special cleaning or decontamination of work environments when a person suspected of having the virus has been present unless those environments are visibly contaminated with blood or other body fluids (1).
However, coronavirus may remain viable for a time-period ranging from hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials. Epidemiologic and laboratory evidence suggests that the environment could play a role in transmission. Cleaning and disinfecting may prevent the accumulation of viruses and possible contamination.
Cleaning refers to the removal of germs. Cleaning does not kill germs, but by removing them, it lowers their numbers and the risk of spreading infection.
Disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs. The process may not clean or remove germs.
WHO recommendations for the prevention of the spread of coronavirus infection (January 2020)
In order to remain in compliance with the WHO recommendations, the sufficient preventive measures include consistent cleaning and disinfection of all environmental surfaces which may have come into contact with coronavirus. These recommendations include cleaning of environmental surfaces with water and detergent, and applying commonly used hospital-level disinfectants (for example, sodium hypochlorite is commonly known as bleach), and must be carried out correctly and consistently (2).
WHO recommendations for SARS infection prevention (2003)
WHO recommendations specifically focus on disinfection. These recommendations include the use of disinfection of areas with the following products: sodium hypochlorite (bleach) and formalin, chloro meta xylenol, or an equivalent chlorine-releasing product. All surfaces and objects where the SARS infection may have come into contact with should be specifically targeted for cleaning. Wet mopping with a disinfectant cleaner (hard surfaces) or steam cleaning (carpets) is recommended (3).
The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC, USA) has recently issued recommendations for US households and community settings. According to those recommendations, the cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for the prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses. Only disinfectants with qualified claims, such as EPA-registered, are recommended to be used. EPA issued a list of disinfectants recommended against SARS-CoV-2 (coronavirus).
From this list, among the most common products able to kill pathogens including harder-to-kill viruses (such as coronavirus) are:
· Alcohol solutions at least 70% alcohol
· Diluted bleach (5 tbsp per gallon of water)
· Clorox Multi-Surface Cleaner + Bleach
· Clorox Disinfecting Spray
· Lysol Clean & Fresh Surface Cleaner
Schedule: at least daily or when visible contamination occurs (4).
Health Canada provides an explanation of the disease Coronavirus causes and provides recommendations on how to decrease the risk of getting sick. These include avoiding traveling and large gatherings, advice on common hygiene and what to do in the event you become sick. There are still many unknowns about Coronavirus including animal-to-human transmission. Health Canada recommends avoiding contact with your pets if you are sick: animals may be able to get infected too and transmit the virus (5).
 Guidance for infection prevention, the US Dept. of Labor: https://www.osha.gov/SLTC/covid-19/controlprevention.html#health
 EPA’s Registered Antimicrobial Products for Use Against Novel Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2, the Cause of COVID-19 (Date: 03/03/2020): https://templatelab.com/epa-registered-disinfectant-products/
 Guidance from WHO for the prevention of SARS infection: https://www.who.int/csr/sars/travel/vessels/en/
 Methods for disinfecting: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/community/home/cleaning-disinfection.html
 Health Canada recommendations for virus spread: https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/prevention-risks.html?&utm_campaign=gc-hc-sc-coronavirusoutbreak-1920-0165-92218007