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Take action against Norovirus this season

8 February 2013


New predictions from the Health Protection Agency say that a rise in norovirus is just around the corner.


Norovirus wreaked havoc in offices at the end of last year with estimated total cases surpassing 1 million in the UK alone.

This ‘winter vomiting bug’, can be transmitted through direct contact with people who have the bug, or with contaminated surfaces or objects. The low infectious dose means norovirus can spread quickly in areas with large numbers of people. This is particularly true in office premises with open-plan seating or staff who ‘hot desk’, which make it much more difficult to prevent cross-contamination.

There are steps both businesses and facilities managers can take to maximise their chances of staying healthy and bug-free this season.

Advice for businesses

  • Promote good hand hygiene standards – staff should be washing their hands regularly and hand sanitisers should always be readily available. The most effective kind are non-alcohol based like Initial’s UltraProtect, which forms a gentle but long-lasting barrier across hands, protecting against germs like norovirus for hours after use
  • Thorough cleaning in communal areas – shared kitchen and washroom facilities and open plan offices should undergo daily cleaning as well as a professional ‘deep clean’ at least twice a year
  • In the event of an outbreak, call in professionals to conduct a deep clean
  • Try using plants in the office and around desks as a physical barrier against these bugs

Advice for staff
  • Practice good hygiene – thorough hand washing after going to the bathroom and before preparing food is extremely important. It is recommended that you should wash your hands for the same length of time it takes to sing happy birthday twice (approximately 30 seconds). Cleaning your desk regularly also reduces the level of germs in the office
  • Try not to share items such as tea towels when using communal areas. These items can be home to high levels of bacteria and are often not cleaned regularly. Good alternatives include using tissues or hand towel dispensers
  • If you suspect you have norovirus, notify your work and do not return until 48 hours after the last symptoms have disappeared.

Peter Barratt is technical manager at Initial Hygiene