Infection control website could reduce coronavirus spreading at home – study

People caring for household members with Covid-19 should be encouraged to clean shared surfaces and ventilate rooms in a bid to stop the virus spreading, experts have suggested.

Professor Paul Little, of the University of Southampton, is calling for the promotion of “simple evidence-based interventions” to help curb infection within households and reduce demand on hospitals.

In a new study, published in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) on Wednesday, researchers say a website that provides advice on infection control could help members of the public adopt such measures.

While the Government has focused on reducing the transmission of between households, the study suggests less attention has been given to transmission between family members.

It says that providing families with personal protective equipment (PPE) – such as in hospitals – is “not practicable”.

But Germ Defence, a website that provides advice on infection control measures, could be used to help users think about when and how to carry out key behaviours – such as handwashing and cleaning.

The website assists users in changing their home environment and supporting new habits should a member of the household become infected.

According to the peer-reviewed study, Germ Defence, developed during the H1N1 pandemic and trialled in over 20,000 patients, was shown to reduce the number and severity of infections of users and members of their household.

Prof Little and colleagues also say reductions were noted in gastrointestinal infections, GP consultations and antibiotic prescriptions.

(PA Graphics)
(PA Graphics)

“This could supplement public health advice on infection control in the home since it uses behaviour change techniques to help people implement this advice,” the authors suggest.

Experts say the website is now being adapted for the coronavirus crisis and is set to be rolled out nationally and internationally to help limit transmission of the virus.

Germ Defence may help to “limit transmission of Covid-19 as well as the other viruses that are still causing the majority of respiratory illnesses in the current pandemic, even in secondary care settings,” the report says.

Use of such behavioural interventions “could support public health advice to improve infection control in families,” the study says.