Principles and assumptions for doing support work in the covid-19 pandemic

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This page is specific to the COVID-19 pandemic. It will be updated rapidly.
This resource contains information which may be useful for performing care or advocacy work, or describes overall policy and principles.
  1. Anyone could be infected with the virus, and could be spreading it asymptomatically. Further, anyone could be already infected with other illnesses or have underlying chronic health conditions that could worsen outcomes or cause further problems.
  2. The aim of community organisations should be to prevent as many infections happening as possible, and where this isn’t possible, reduce the number of cases that need an ICU.
  3. The primary way to do this is to reduce the exposure of people at high risk of developing severe or critical illness as a result of the virus.
  4. Fast and general testing for the virus is not thoroughly available in the United Kingdom at time of writing.
  5. The virus is transmitted via cough droplets during in-person contact and on contaminated surfaces. At the time of writing, there is no evidence to suggest it is spread via sweat (Dr Tara Smith, Epidemiologist, Kent State University).
  6. Public transport is a common location of virus spread.
  7. A solution of home bleach and cold water, containing a minimum of 0.1% sodium hypochlorite, can be used for disinfecting surfaces that are clean of visible dirt or contaminants, if left on a surface for more than ten minutes. (see end note)
  8. Washing hands thoroughly with soap or with alcohol based hand sanitiser is effective at removing the virus, and preventing it being passed onto things touched by those hands, until they touch an infected surface (including someone’s face, because of proximity to mouth and nose, and other bodily fluids).
  9. It is essential that people feel able to, and are able to, reach out to community support organisations, to ensure they have options other than leaving the house and spreading or being infected by the virus. This means they need to feel those organisations can be trusted with their data, and as such it is vital to prevent data from being used for any purpose apart from than providing support.


Note on bleach dilution

The original draft of these principles followed the World Health Organisation's interim guidance on COVID-19, which advised a solution of 1 part bleach to 9 parts water, giving a total active ingredient of 0.5% sodium hypochlorite when standard household bleach containing 5% sodium hypochlorite is used. This has now been updated to advise an active ingredient of 0.1% sodium hypochlorite, which would require standard household bleach to be diluted by 1:49 with water. However, manufacturers state that the sodium hypocholorite content of bleach degrades by 20% per year when stored, or faster if stored in warm temperatures. Since sodium hypochlorite concentrations lower than 0.1% are not fully effective against coronaviruses, in our documents we have recommended a higher dilution of 1:20 to cover the possibility that people may be using bleach which is not fresh.