Need for deep cleaning in managed isolation and quarantine facilities may be over-exaggerated - Michael Baker

Need for deep cleaning in managed isolation and quarantine facilities may be over-exaggerated - Michael Baker
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An expert is calling to shift focus from deep cleaning surfaces to respiratory transmission in the fight against COVID-19.

Public health professor at the University of Otago Michael Baker says there's an almost obsession with deep cleaning in managed isolation facilities, despite there being no documented cases of people being infected from surfaces.

"You see them sometimes fumigating whole areas with an agent to kill the virus while the evidence is that may be an over-exaggeration - and probably is because we know the virus is transmitted in indoor environments in respiratory droplets and aerosols," Baker tells NewstalkZB.

"Some of the reviews are saying there are no documented examples of anyone getting this virus from touching contaminated surfaces."

Baker's call comes after five positive cases in New Zealand have been linked to the Pullman Hotel in Auckland, which is scheduled to undergo deep cleaning.

Cleaning in managed isolation and quarantine (MIQ) facilities is done with hospital-grade detergents/disinfectants in order to reduce as much as possible the risk of potential transmission.

Baker suggests other ways to minimise already infected people coming into the country.

He tells NewstalkZB the logical thing is focusing on why people are getting infected on flights and tools for reducing infection during their journey.

"There could be a brief period of quarantine before people get on flights. There could be a routine pre-departure rapid test before they get on the plane. We could focus a lot more on mask use during the journey back to New Zealand and what happens at travel hubs," he says.

Baker tells NewstalkZB the MIQ system is well-run but it's got huge stress on it.

"We're seeing now, probably 10 or so failures in the last few months, and as we know, we saw back in August last year, can start a serious outbreak that may be hard to contain," he says.


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