Hotels are not Hospitals

On Jun 15, 2020 by ghadmin.

Multiple hotel groups and independent hotels have announced they are going to apply a bedroom sanitisation process that major trauma hospitals do not use except in the most infectious hemorrhagic virus cases, such as Ebola, where fatality rates are c. 50%+ – that means 50% of all of those who catch it die.

The USA CDC do not recommend using fogging machines in hospitals where infectious diseases are discovered.

In Ireland Covid-19 has a current death rate of c. 7% which appears high but is strongly influenced by age and underlying medical problems. Look at the charts below

What does this tell us?

If you are aged from 10 to 80+ with a pre-existing health condition you should not place yourself in a public space at all.

If you are 80+ you should not place yourself in a position to meet the public

If you are not in one of these categories the risks of death are marginal.  Those under 60 with no underlying health problem have less than a 1% chance of dying if you contract covid-19. Less than 7% of all those tested were positive and as of 12th June 2020 only 837 people were active with most of those hospitalised or isolated.

What is the risk therefore of contracting Covid-19 in a hotel bedroom that has been normally cleaned and has the added protection of a disinfectant spray on high touch areas and where it is probably highly unlikely you will find someone over 80 staying?

Is Fogging Bedrooms therefore over the top?

Hotels planning to use these machines will “fog” hotel bedrooms following each guest departure.  There are 2 methods planned;

  • A single use spray canister left in the room which creates the fog/mists
  • Fogging/Spray machine that is manually used to fill the whole area with a fine mist of disinfectant/sanitiser.

I would ask a number of questions;

  • Is this a process recommended by the NPHET, HSE, HSA, IHF or Failte Ireland? (NO)
  • Have you carried out a full Risk Assessment under the Health & Safety at Work Act?
  • Have you consulted with employees about these new processes?
  • Do you have Material Safety Data Sheets for the chemicals that will be used in these machines and are these fully available to employees and customers?
  • What protection is required for employees tasked with using these machines. Should full PPE be provided to protect employees?
  • What technical/chemical information will you provide to customers given that they will be entering a room where these processes have been applied
  • Have you a supplier guarantee that the chemical will not damage furnishings?
  • Will you have to go back into the room and clean a residue off all hard surfaces?

The costs range from E650 to E15,000+ for fogging machines with Gas Canisters c. E3-5 per bedroom. Individual Bedroom fogging will cost from 20c to E5. Using a disinfectant after normal cleaning will cost about 10c. (There are some suppliers with very cheap sanitisers that can be used in foggers)

I understand the motivations behind being able to tell guests that your rooms are 100% sanitised, because you have used a fogging, or similar, device.  But, this technique has been driven by International Brands who have deep pockets and it appears that independent hoteliers are being bounced into this cost. What is wrong with telling your guests that your normal cleaning has been enhanced with a specific disinfection process of high-touch areas – and give them a few alcohol wipes as well!

I would also question whether these systems are designed for hotel bedrooms, most I have reviewed are designed for healthcare or pharma or industrial or kitchen use with hard surfaces, easily rinsed, with little or no possibility of surface damage from these chemicals. I have seen no literature or marketing suggesting that they are designed for potentially daily use in hotel bedrooms with extensive soft furnishings, carpets, etc.

What kills Covid-19?  Soap and water. Therefore proper cleaning and a disinfectant left on for the required time is more than sufficient.  I would prefer to know how you are protecting me when my face touches the pillows or duvet cover as opposed to being afraid that I might catch Covid-19 from my bedroom wall or a cleaned surface.

Overkill?  If the average hotel buys 2 machines at an average cost of E1,250 each machine hotels in Ireland will spend c. E2,000,000 on machines alone.  Add in training, monitoring, additional PPE, chemicals, etc. and the sector will be bounced into a spend well in excess of this, and it will not guarantee that a guest will not catch Covid-19 whilst they stay in your hotel!

If frontline health workers are happy to walk into hospital rooms with only face masks knowing they have been cleaned properly why do Irish Hoteliers believe hotel bedrooms require a process like this?

If you are going to use fogging devices make sure of the following;

  • The chemicals in use have no impact on human health
  • The chemicals in use will have no detrimental impact on furnishings or fabrics if frequently used (Written guarantee from your supplier)
  • Bedrooms can be safely entered within 30 minutes of treatment
  • Additional cleaning is not required to remove residue
  • The cost of the fogging machine is less than E700
  • The cost of fogging a room is less than 20c
  • You are fully transparent with employees and guests
  • You have applied the provisions of the Health & Safety at Work Act to protect your employees

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