Winter viruses and how to beat them – Infection control

Winter viruses and how to beat them - infection control - hygiene Some months ago, the RapidBI team were invited to assist a BBC production team in the production of a scene for this BBC documentary – Winter viruses and how to beat them

Our brief for the programme Winter viruses and how to beat them was to work to demonstrate how a virus would spread in the real world.Winter viruses and how to beat them - Infection control

In this pre-release clip (below), the BBC together with the Health & Safety Executive’s Laboratory (UK) to explore the spread of the winter vomiting bug “Norovirus”. In this dramatic clip you can clearly see that this is a pervasive and nasty contamination and survival strategy the virus has.

We can see from this very graphic video that one key to Winter viruses and how to beat them is effective cleaning and personal hygiene on a regular basis. We also know from experience, that people that believe they they clean well, often don’t.  Hand washing is a skill, and so is surface cleaning.


graphics from the BBC


The presenter attempts to clean up the spillage, and then we can see just how ineffective the clean-up actually is.

Worse, as we can see in this image, the person who actually cleaned up is themselves contaminated with this nasty virus – ready to spread to others. (for information about Norovirus).

In some of our Infection Control Training, we have realised how important it is to learn effective cleaning methods – and to many its not what you think.  I will look at putting a video together to show this some time in the future.

READ  School Improvement Review - SIR

Winter viruses and how to beat them – schools & offices

The scenario we we involved in was to look at a school, and show how a virus could spread under normal conditions. A School was chosen, as this provided a “controlled environment” to operate. This was done in a way so as not to impact the behaviours of the children.

We were given access to two classrooms, and the concept was that we were emulating a child or adult sneezing throughout the day. Different colour traces were used for each class, so they we could see any cross contamination.

At break times, we went into the rooms and looked at the spread. Very quickly what started out on one table, could be seen on others. equally by lunchtime there was cross contamination between the rooms – there was some activities that required the children to move around.

Viruses – the biggest risk of all

At the end of the day, we showed the children what we had been doing. At the very end we turned out the main lights and put on the ultra-violet lights, and from there we could easily see the “contamination” on the hands, cloths and faces… yes faces, of the children. This was despite the fact that several children were washing their own hands on a regular basis throughout the day.

For me the biggest shock was a “community” ice pack. Use to help children when they “bump heads”. It seems that the school had two of these, and they were re-usable ones. No problem with that – but they were never washed! The icepack was clearly heavily contaminated with material from both rooms.

READ  Housekeeping Infection Control Checklist

Winter viruses and how to beat them – Infection control

The key to Winter viruses and how to beat them is good hygiene. This means not only the washing of hands and surfaces, but looking at all items that may move between places. In many organisations, this may mean between low and high risk environments.

An example of this that I experienced, was when my dad was admitted to hospital last year. He was in high dependency  and despite lots of signs and opportunities to wash hands, many staff (especially maintenance and porters) seemed to think that the rules did not apply to them. I challenged one and his response was “I don’t touch patients”!

Alcohol Gel does not work…

Well not all the time. Of course we know that alcohol gel does not kill all bugs, but it is a valuable part of the overall “universal precaution” of hygiene. certainly effective hand washing with soap and water helps.

Gel is no replacement for effective soap & water washing.

I was in the head office of a well known UK high street brand last week, and in the toilets there are signs saying “Wash your hands” – but in the 9 months that I have been working there, there has never been paper towels, and the one hand dryer is so high and inadequate, I know most don’t bother!


Clips and graphics from the BBC unless otherwise stated.

Winter viruses and how to beat them” is a must see documentary for anyone involved in healthcare, education of cleaning/ facilities management

Post reviewed November 2014

About Mike Morrison

Mike Morrison is founder of RapidBI
Mike is a consultant and change agent specialising in developing skills in senior people to increase organizational performance.
Mike is also founder & director of RapidBI, an organizational effectiveness consultancy.
Check out his linkedin profile

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