Managing Risks Related to Covid-19 (Wuhan Coronavirus) - Discussion

Last Updated: 17 March 2020

Briefing for Hospitality Laundries
Briefing for Hotels/Venues
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This following section is intended to begin a discussion on operational aspects of healthcare laundries such as detailed risk assessment, employee awareness, policies and considerations on personal protective equipment to help manage risks related to Wuhan novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Covid-19 infection is classified as an airborne high consequence infectious disease (HCID). There are now several confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection in the UK - Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Risk Assessment

TSA recommends a detailed risk assessment covering at least the following aspects (not in any order of priority):

  1. Identifying stock exposure to suspected/ known cases – this is one of the most crucial part of your risk management and requires working closely with your healthcare, hospitality and food customer base. There have been cases of persons of suspected infection staying in hotel rooms serviced by textile services operators.
  2. Employee awareness – Employee awareness of the symptoms and the nature of this infection, would prove highly effective in working together to manage risk. Additionally, consider ways to fill gaps in understanding the use and care of PPE and related procedures. Reference Link: Laundry and Cleaning News Article by LTC Worlwide 
  3. Sanitization facilities for your employees – Provision for adequate facilities for your staff to follow standard procedures on infection control – hand sanitization etc.
  4. Staff symptoms reporting – In accordance with Public Health England’s recommendations, anyone returning to work should declare if they have been to any of the affected countries. Reference Link: The risk assessment should consider procedures in place for staff to report any related symptoms.
  5. Sorting staff health / pre-existing conditions – your risk assessment may consider ways to reduce risks relating to any unknown / unanticipated exposure, giving particular attention to sorting staff with weakened immune or pre-existing conditions.
  6. Procedures in relation to managing visitors – The aspects of reporting of visits to affected countries, sanitization,  symptoms etc. as detailed in point 4.
  7. PPE/RPE - Depending on the results of the local risk assessment, consider options regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and/or Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) after all other reasonably practicable measures have been introduced to prevent or control exposure.
  8. Handling and care of PPE – Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology in one of its reports states that in the absence of rigorous decontamination, viruses may survive on objects of personal protective equipment (PPE) for hours, posing a continued risk of transfer to the wearer during handling over multiple uses. A good hand hygiene procedure should be made available for after PPE removal and between changes for preventing the spread of infection. This kind of viruses may survive better on non-porous surfaces than on porous as one study showed they survived on a disposable gown for 2 days and on cotton for up to 24 hours. ((Lai et al., 2005)

Decision on How to Handle Textile Articles Exposed to Suspected or Known Cases

Coronoavirus is a lipid enveloped virus and can survive on surfaces for several days; therefore, infected (confirmed / known cases) linen may pose a risk to laundry staff through textile or contaminated surfaces/PPE. Laundry operations should be able to make a final decision on whether to take the linen back to the laundry to be processed or would they like the linen in question incinerated. Thermal or chemical-thermal laundering processes i.e. (competently validated and /or BS EN 14065 certified  process) may be adequate to inactivate lipid enveloped viruses in textiles. There does not appear to be any specific guidance in the published literature. Public Health England have provided specific response to the TSA as follows.

'The infected linen should be bagged in accordance with infection control procedures. Current decontamination guidance for the NHS states ‘After cleaning with neutral detergent, a chlorine-based disinfectant should be used, in the form of a solution at a minimum strength of 1,000ppm available chlorine’.

Individual operators should consider robust procedures to collect, sort and disinfect the linen. We will endavour to update this page as soon as we have more information available. 

Additionally, the Section on Management of Linen,  Page 11 of WHO’s Interim Infection Prevention and Control with a focus on Ebola provides clear guidance on managing linen.

Reference Link:


Cabinet Roller Towels

The use of a cabinet roller towel service reduces the risk of spreading of infections in Washrooms. Every household and business in the UK has been advised on measures for restricting the spread of the Coronavirus (COVID-19).  Central to this advice is the need for frequent and correct hand washing as the virus can be readily spread by contact with contaminated surfaces.
Over the years, we have seen reliable evidence of the effectiveness of cabinet roller towels in hygienically providing hand drying solutions to millions of users. Especially, at a time when we are fighting a high consequence air borne disease, it is vital to restrict the spread of infection to the individual, to surrounding objects/surfaces and to other people.
Correct hand washing must be followed by hand drying and there is currently no public information on the safest arrangements for hand drying in washrooms either at home, in the public or work places.
Hygiene: Most people would prefer the option of drying hands with a towel and in the current situation this means a fresh towel every time.  The use of a cabinet roller towel system will provide this option most hygienically and at incredibly sustainable scale. It will avoid the inevitable spread of infection from possibly contaminated warm blasts of moist air (warm air driers) which can carry infection throughout the wash room and to individuals present either by contact or inhalation. 
The Design: Cabinet towel system dispenses a fresh, hygienically disinfected* towel portion on demand and automatically stores used towel safely away from contact with the next user.  The positioning of the locked and secure cabinet and the length of towel dispensed means it is far less open to abuse or contamination from alternative use such as wiping down surfaces, discarding after catching sneezes, etc.
Use of a cabinet roller towel system together with a hygienic hand wash offers a safe option for controlling the spread of infection to individuals in the Washroom. 

*  Cabinet roller towel service providers complying with EN 13568** use recommended towel specifications, a validated disinfecting process, the correct design of dispenser and the controlled, professional servicing of the system.
** EN 13569 – Cabinet roller towels – Performance requirements and processing




Find your local Health Protection Team -

The United Kingdom Government Advice -

Pubic Health England -

The Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service - ACAS - Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees


Information Made Available by the TSA Premium Supply Partners





Ecolab - Infection Prevention Measures Christeyns - Information Sheet  WSI - Briefing Croner - Advice


Casanova, L., Rutala, W.A., Weber, D.J. and Sobsey, M.D., 2010. Coronavirus survival on healthcare personal protective equipment. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 31(5), pp.560-561.

Geller, C., Varbanov, M. and Duval, R.E., 2012. Human coronaviruses: insights into environmental resistance and its influence on the development of new antiseptic strategies. Viruses, 4(11), pp.3044-3068.

Lai, M.Y., Cheng, P.K. and Lim, W.W., 2005. Survival of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 41(7), pp.e67-e71.

Sattar, S.A., Springthorpe, V.S., Karim, Y. and Loro, P., 1989. Chemical disinfection of non-porous inanimate surfaces experimentally contaminated with four human pathogenic viruses. Epidemiology & Infection, 102(3), pp.493-505.

Wang, X.W., Li, J.S., Jin, M., Zhen, B., Kong, Q.X., Song, N., Xiao, W.J., Yin, J., Wei, W., Wang, G.J. and Si, B.Y., 2005. Study on the resistance of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus. Journal of virological methods, 126(1-2), pp.171-177.


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