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Washing healthcare uniforms at home could spread Coronavirus – Scientists warn

Scientists have warn that healthcare workers washing their uniforms at home could eventually spread the Coronavirus. This was contained in a recent research findings by scientists at De Montfort University, Leicester.

To this end, they warn healthcare workers against washing their uniforms at home, due to the risk of transmitting Covid-19.

Experts from De Montfort University have said that by doing this, healthcare workers run the risk of passing Coronavirus to their ‘families, colleagues and patients’.

The current advice from Public Health England says that it is safe to wash healthcare workers’ uniforms at home, provided the temperature is set to 60°C.

However, Dr Katie Laird, reader in microbiology and head of the Infectious Disease Research Group at De Montfort University, has said her research of wash processes of uniforms has found that all workwear should be laundered in hospitals to ‘commercial standards’ or by an ‘industrial laundry’.

Dr Laird said: “By taking their uniforms home, workers run the risk of contaminating their home environment, including the washing machine, because unlike in-house or industrial laundries, there is no segregation of laundry based on designated soiled and clean areas.

“This means that if the virus is on the uniform, it could transfer onto other surfaces or items of clothing in the wash.

“We also have to consider the fact that washing machines we use at home do not always get up to the temperature shown – so you might think you are washing at 60°C but actually you’re not.

“This means there is potential for coronavirus to be transmitted back into the hospital environment via the same uniform.”

The updated NHS uniform and workwear guidelines published on April 2 2020 state that here is ‘little effective difference between domestic and commercial laundering in terms of removing micro-organisms’.

The guidelines also said that a ’10-minute wash at 60°C is enough to remove almost all micro-organisms’.

Dr Laird raised concerns that not every healthcare workers was adhering to the guidelines, following an anonymous survey of healthcare workers in the East Midlands.

That survey of 265 hospital staff at four unnamed hospitals in the region, found that 44 per cent of nurses said they launder their uniforms at temperatures below 60°C and 40 per cent said they wash them with other items of clothing.

She said: “During the coronavirus outbreak, I would seriously advise that all healthcare uniforms are laundered in house or by an industrial laundry to meet the recommended commercial standard.

“We also need to see further education of nurses and healthcare staff in the role of textiles as a transmission route and laundering guidance.”

Credit: leicestermercury.co.uk

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