Norovirus cases reach unprecedented levels

December 27th, 2012 Category: Office Cleaning

As workers all over the country prepare to return to their jobs en masse next week, business owners may have to pay special attention to their office cleaning routines if they are to avoid staff falling victim to norovirus.

Official figures from the Health Protection Agency (HPA) suggest that up to 880,000 people in England alone have been infected with the illness since the summer, almost twice as many as was the case last year.

This represents the worst start to the norovirus season ever recorded and it has had severe repercussions for public places up and down the country.

Hospital wards have had to be closed to visitors for fear of bringing in even more infection, while schools were also forced to shut early for the Christmas break after children and teachers were struck down with the bug.

The HPA also suggested that this year's outbreak could be accelerating rather than easing off.

This trend may be accelerated by the thousands of visits to shopping centres this week as the post-Christmas sales get underway, not to mention the increased use of public transport.

Norovirus particles can survive on surfaces such as escalator hand rails for up to two weeks and it takes as few as ten to infect someone who touches them. This is also one of the few viruses that can be passed on through the air, for example, if an infected person flushes a toilet and someone else inhales that air.

With symptoms not always showing straight away, it may be that employees bring norovirus with them as they get back to work in the new year.

To halt its spread, the HPA recommends regularly cleaning all hard surfaces with detergent and disinfectant, paying particular attention to toilets and bathroom doors.

Pallavi Shivarkar, corporate services manager at an IT firm in India, recently told the Times of India that offices should ideally be cleaned in this way every day to beat illnesses.

It could be a good idea for company owners to bring in external contract cleaners, as they will have the expertise and equipment to make sure an office is germ-free throughout the winter.

People who do show symptoms should also be sent home immediately.