At the moment there are many questions which remain unanswered with regards to the COVID-19 pandemic. We cannot give exact answers to many questions as the data simply isn’t there, however we will do our best with the knowledge that we currently have.
We have assessed the use of ultrasonic cleaners in surgical environments and consider them safe to use providing addition steps are considered/performed.
Ideally ALL cleaning and sterilising should be done in a specific Decontamination Room. Wherever handling of contaminated instruments is performed, Staff should always wear PPE.
During the COVID-19 pandemic you should use the ultrasonic cleaner in the normal way. Please refer to the operator’s handbook and our periodic testing guides all available on the downloads section of our website.
Why we consider ultrasonic cleaning essential and safe
Any cleaning solution in the tank which contains a surfactant probably kills COVID-19. Whilst laboratory tests have not been carried out on our products and the virus, we cannot be 100% sure, however the following of our solutions are manufactured using a surfactant:
- WELsol sachets
- WELzyme green sachets
- RD5 and RD6
- WELzyme (Sachets, 1 litre and 5 litre)
- WELzyme Plus+
Surfactants are proven to kill viruses as they interact with the ‘envelope’ which surrounds a virus, bursting it and then rendering the RNA useless. It is why we are being told to wash our hands – soap is a surfactant! After contact with a surfactant the virus is deactivated and no longer poses a threat.
There have also been articles published regarding ultrasound killing viruses, spores and bacteria without any cleaning/sanitising solution being used.
Again, we have not done these tests and so can only assume that the data is accurate. If this is the case then it doesn’t matter what cleaning solution you use as any virus should be deactivated by ultrasonic cleaning alone (but never use just water).
The main question at the moment seems to be regarding aerosol production. During the cleaning process aerosols are produced. Even with the lid in place a small amount of aerosol production is inevitable either around the lip of the tank or in the area above the solution and below the lid.
Washing your hands/running water into the sink/sneezing all create aerosols. Very small aerosol particles, wherever they come from will float in the air for maybe 30 minutes although it is impossible to give an exact time. If the aerosols contain bacteria, spores or viruses, they can be breathed in or ingested and infect a new host, although again there is some debate about this. Larger droplets will fall to the floor/surfaces quickly.
In either case, what happens next. If the aerosols DO contain the COVID-19 virus:
- They will land on the floor and sit there until they ‘rendered useless’ or are transferred onto something else. So as long as you don’t touch the floor with anything but your feet you probably won’t come into contact with the virus.
- They will fall onto other surfaces. No reliably data is yet available, however it is believed that Covid-19 can remain active on some surfaces for up to 72 hours where it can be transferred and infect a new host. Sanitising the surface is therefore essential.
If the COVID-19 virus was on the instrument prior to being placed into the ultrasonic cleaner, it is most likely that the virus will have been deactivated by either the cleaning solution and/or the ultrasonic energy so it is unlikely that any aerosols will contain any virus.
After cleaning there may still be other spores/bacteria/viruses on the instruments that haven’t be killed or deactivated so rinsing is essential prior to sterilisation. After cleaning, the instruments can be removed immediately before being rinsed thoroughly in a sink/bowl of clean water (not under a running tap) to avoid more aerosol production.
If you treat surfaces etc. with WELsan Surface Sanitiser that kills coronavirus instantly. WELsan will also sit on the surface and kill anything for several hours. It can even be used like an ‘air freshener’ – if you spray it directly into the air and leave the room immediately it will significantly reduce the active aerosol particles and viral load. DO NOT re-enter the room until the mist has cleared which can be up to 30 minutes.
If you don’t sanitise the surface, the virus will get a free ride to where ever until it ‘dies’ or is introduced into a new host.
PPE for staff is ESSENTIAL – KN95/FFP2/FFP3 masks, aprons etc and nitrile gloves purchased form a reputable supplier. There are a HUGE amount of Chinese/Italian fakes around at the moment with fake certification so be careful.
Stay safe and call us on 01636 892410 if you have any further questions.