Water, sanitation, hygiene and waste management for COVID-19. Technical brief, 19 March 2020
World Health Organization
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Background: This interim guidance supplements the infection prevention and control (IPC) documents by summarizing WHO guidance on water, sanitation and health care waste relevant to viruses, including coronaviruses. It is intended for water and sanitation practitioners and providers and health care providers who want to know more about water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) risks and practices. The provision of safe water, sanitation, and hygienic conditions is essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 outbreak. Ensuring good and consistently applied WASH and waste management practices in communities, homes, schools, marketplaces, and health care facilities will help prevent human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus. The most important information concerning WASH and the COVID-19 virus is summarized here. Frequent and proper hand hygiene is one of the most important measures that can be used to prevent infection with the COVID-19 virus. WASH practitioners should work to enable more frequent and regular hand hygiene by improving facilities and using proven behavior-change techniques. WHO guidance on the safe management of drinking-water and sanitation services applies to the COVID-19 outbreak. Extra measures are not needed. Disinfection will facilitate more rapid die-off of the COVID-19 virus. Many co-benefits will be realized by safely managing water and sanitation services and applying good hygiene practices. Currently, there is no evidence about the survival of the COVID-19 virus in drinking-water or sewage. The morphology and chemical structure of the COVID-19 virus are similar to those of other human coronaviruses for which there are data about both survival in the environment and effective inactivation measures. This document draws upon the evidence base and WHO guidance on how to protect against viruses in sewage and drinking-water. This document will be updated as new information becomes available.