COVID-19 : Prevention Recommendations for our Diving Community

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STAY SAFE: BASIC PROTECTIVE MEASURES AGAINST THE NEW CORONAVIRUS


In light of the recent outbreak of the novel coronavirus (COVID-19), the DAN Europe medical team suggests you take good care of your health, and also protect others by following some basic recommendations, which include:

  • Wash your hands frequently
  • Maintain social distancing
  • Avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth
  • Practice respiratory hygiene
  • If you have fever, cough and difficulty breathing, seek medical care early
  • Stay informed and follow advice given by your healthcare provider

The epidemiological situation is constantly evolving.

Stay up-to-date about new developments, and learn about all the protective measures against the new coronavirus on the WHO website, or consult the resources made available by the Ministry of Health in your country of residence (In UK, the Department of Health & Social Care)

 

 

HOW TO MANAGE DISINFECTION OPERATIONS?


Studies of other coronaviruses have shown their infectivity can be reduced by heat, UV light and alkaline or acidic conditions. Because of this, surfaces can be disinfected using household cleaning products.

Surfaces

It is not clear how long the virus can resist on surfaces, but preliminary information suggest that it can survive for a long time. It is therefore necessary to clean all surfaces and disinfect them frequently, especially those that are directly touched by several people: door and window handles, light switches, taps, keypads, etc. It can be practical to create a list of all spaces and surfaces to be sanitised.
Among the products that are useful to eliminate the virus there are both alcohol-based disinfectants with alcohol percentage (ethanol/ethyl alcohol) of 75%, and products based on sodium hypochlorite (bleach).
The percentage of sodium hypochlorite capable of eliminating the virus without causing irritation to the respiratory system is 0.1% for most surfaces. For toilets (WC, shower, washbasins) a higher percentage can be used: 0.5%.


Please Note

Particular care is required when using alcohol-based disinfectants, including hydroalcoholic hand solutions. A small percentage of alcohol, a highly volatile and flammable substance even at relatively low temperatures, can cause fire or explosion. Avoid direct or indirect contact with equipment, cylinders and filling hoses used for oxygen-enriched air. Wherever possible, prefer using simple soap and water to clean hands.
The Dive Centre premises must be sanitised daily. Common areas such as changing rooms should be disinfected whenever used by different people.
For general information on cleaning and disinfection, please consult the resources made available by WHO as well.


Diving Equipment

Introduction

There are still no specific tests carried out about the permanence of virus on diving equipment and its penetration into the inner parts. Therefore, the use of disinfectants of proven effectiveness in neutralising the virus is recommended also for diving equipment. Some products, such as quaternary ammonium compounds, are effective and highly compatible with typical diving equipment materials (rubber, neoprene, plastics, metal, etc.) but difficult to find and harmful for the marine environment. Other products, such as sodium hypochlorite, are easier to find and cheaper, but must be used in strict compliance with instructions and precautions for use. There are also more expensive products (EW80, Virkon S etc.), commonly used by divers, that have been proven to be effective against the virus.
In the United States, the EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) provides a list of disinfectants effective against the SARS-CoV-2 virus. In Europe, the ECDC (European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control) has published some guidelines.
Regardless of the active ingredients chosen or the method of disinfection, it is of the utmost importance that its effectiveness against the new coronavirus is proven.

Sodium hypochlorite

Common bleach, marketed under different brands and with variable percentages (5-10%) of its active ingredient, sodium hypochlorite, is a among the products able to neutralise the virus. It is important to read the product label carefully, check the percentage of active ingredient, and dilute it in water in the right measure.
Recent scientific studies (1) suggest a 1:50 dilution of bleach containing 5% of sodium hypochlorite (concentration of 0.1% or 1,000 ppm of active ingredient), with complete immersion of the objects for at least 5 minutes.

Here's a practical example of how to dilute the product in water, to obtain 5 litres of solution containing 0.1% of active ingredient:

  • 5% sodium hypochlorite bleach // 100 ml of product in 4900 ml of water, or
  • 10% sodium hypochlorite bleach // 50 ml of product in 4950 ml of water


Precautions:

  • Perform disinfection operations wearing gloves, mask and eye protection.
  • Mix solutions in well ventilated areas
  • Prepare solutions using cold water, as hot water damages the active ingredient
  • Never mix bleach with other products and chemicals
  • Avoid splashes during cleaning
  • Rinse with fresh water and allow to dry before use

 

ADDITIONAL RESOURCES


Germophobia? - Just give it a reasonable thought // Alert Diver Magazine

Scuba Equipment care – Rinsing and cleaning diving equipment // Alert Diver Magazine

Guidelines on decontaminating scuba equipment - EPA's diving safety manual

 

 

 

WE CARE


DAN has always been at the forefront for timely and correct dissemination of medical and scientific information addressed to the dive community. This includes educational programs, prevention campaigns, research projects, and more.

All these initiatives are mainly financed by membership dues. If you're not a member yet, please consider joining DAN. If you already are a Member, make sure your membership and insurance benefits do not expire: renew today.

Do you have any questions or comments? Drop us a line at communications@daneurope.org.