What was supposed to keep us safe has made us sicker than ever before. Australia has developed a weakened immune system and is facing an uncertain future that consists of Multi-demics, which include multiple viruses impacting our health, our productivity, and mental acuity. A cocktail of respiratory viruses has increased across the country, like 'Flurona'—a non-medical term that is described as having the flu and COVID-19 together; COVID-19, RSV, Para-influenza, Adenovirus, HMPV, and the Super flu. The Australian and New Zealand flu seasons have been further exacerbated by our weakened immune systems, a cold and damp winter season, and people returning to work, school and commuting on busy public transport. Amidst all this, we are facing new strains of the coronavirus that continue to evolve and develop, mutating into more infectious strains like the Omicron variant BA.5. Professor Robert Booy told the Courier-Mail the latter viruses and Omicron are known as a "Multi-demic" situation. The Epidemiologists note that face masks, vaccines, and good hygiene are critical as we hit the grim milestone of 10,000 COVID-19-related deaths thus far.
We tend to take the Australian Super flu, a strain of the Influenza A virus that has been identified as the most likely candidate for the next flu pandemic, less seriously. Recent research has found that the Australian flu could be more deadly than the Spanish flu pandemic that resulted in 50 million deaths worldwide. The Australian flu is a unique strain of the Influenza A virus that poses a risk to individuals who have a compromised immune system. Individuals who are sick or have a weakened immune system are at a higher risk of getting sick with the Australian flu. People who have chronic health conditions such as diabetes, chronic lung disease, heart disease, or any other condition that affects the immune system are at high risk. Some people are at high risk for other reasons, such as because they are very young (under 6 months old), very old (over 65), or pregnant.
As if the Multi-demic situation is not concerning enough, we face yet another global crisis that’s hit our shores, and this time it’s not a disease that's transmitted through air droplets, it's passed on through the surface and skin-to-skin contact. The Monkeypox spread is now a global health emergency, and it is already affecting Australia and New Zealand. The virus is frequently misdiagnosed as genital or buttock pimples. This deadly virus is mainly spread through contact with skin lesions and on surfaces. "It is rarely transmitted through contact with large respiratory droplets from a person early on in their infection," Dr McAnulty said.
The deadly Monkeypox virus has already hit our shores, spreading in Australia for the first time. Two people are already infected with the tropical disease through local transmission. NSW Health Executive Director of Health Protection Dr Jeremy McAnulty said in the NZ Herald, "people in New South Wales should be on high alert for symptoms of Monkeypox after 11 cases of the virus were confirmed in the state on Tuesday." Common Monkeypox symptoms include headaches, body aches, and a rash or lesions on the genital areas. Arindam Basu, an Epidemiologist from the University of Canterbury, said: "cases are inevitable after New Zealand reopens its borders next month." According to RNZ news, there are already two confirmed cases in New Zealand. The third most important pillar of Initial Hygiene 360° best practices addresses surface hygiene. This pillar is a crucial step in keeping your staff and visitors protected while at work during these uncertain times, which are likely to impact business productivity.
The cost of absenteeism is impacting businesses, with absences already running at an all-time high of 50 percent above average levels. Employers are expecting this number to peak in the next few months due to the contagious BA.4 and BA.5 variants combined with the Multi-demic driving a new wave of infections and hospitalisation. Startling results released by the ABS suggest at least 22% of businesses are experiencing absent staff due to COVID-19. And larger businesses are three times more likely to report these absences at 65% compared to small businesses at 20%. Almost half of all businesses faced supply chain disruptions in January 2022 at 47%.
According to Hadjira, Youcef and Djelloul ( 2022), a positive effect between absenteeism and COVID-19 is estimated at 0.190, compared to a negative effect on health estimated at -0.107. Studies have shown that coronavirus has impacted workplace performance for several reasons linked to sickness from coronavirus infections, absences due to self-isolation, quarantine, and absences at the request of employers. Staff have been shown to take additional days off from work due to fear factors linked to infections – while employees were left feeling vulnerable because of some temporary workplace closures that occurred in 2021 and early 2022. Additionally, reduced work hours at the request of employers were all contributing factors to the increased absenteeism and poor mental health of staff. Source (Hadjira, B., Youcef, P. S., & Djelloul, C. Testing a multivariate model of absenteeism during the coronavirus pandemic).
The best way to protect yourself and others from the spread of the Australian flu and other respiratory viruses like COVID-19 is by practicing good hygiene. The four pillars of hygiene are Air, Hand, Surface and Washroom hygiene. Air hygiene focuses on keeping the indoor climate clean, healthy and breathable. Air pollutants such as CO2 are harmful to health and can have a negative impact on productivity. Viruses such as COVID-19 are characterised by strong air transmission risks and can be exasperated in poor air quality environments. Natural ventilation and fresh air can help, as can the use of air purifiers.
Access to fresh air and ensuring a regular "clean air delivery rate," or CADR, indoors is vital to remove sick, dirty, and toxic air from the indoor environment. According to Epidemiologist Professor Bennett, as cited in an article published by the Daily Mail "If you are indoors, make sure you are putting a fan on, opening a window and just ventilating the inside spaces," she said.
Mechanical ventilation, such as air purifiers, can help to ensure a high CADR and remove any harmful airborne pathogens from the indoor environment. Air purification can ensure particles that cause sickness transmission are removed from the breathing zone to release clean, safe air back into the indoor space.
Hand hygiene is something that many people take for granted. We are constantly touching our hands on various surfaces and objects throughout the day. This can lead to the spread of germs and bacteria. Surface hygiene refers to the cleanliness of the environment that we come into contact with throughout the day. Surfaces such as doorknobs and keyboards are often overlooked as pathways for the spread of sickness, carrying millions of bacteria, germs, and viruses. Initial Hygiene recommends a protocol for surface disinfection, particularly for high-touch surfaces, to minimise the risk of cross-transmission.
Washroom hygiene focuses on keeping the washroom clean and tidy. Consumer sentiment has never been higher when it comes to high hygiene standards and the cleanliness of the washroom. Hygienic washrooms will usually create the perception of how clean the general indoor environment actually is in your business. Having a clean washroom that offers patrons and employees access to soaps, sanitisers, seat wipes, hand dryers, and clean sanitary waste bins can help protect your business against the spread of the flu and other viruses.
Take rest and rest your body - resting your body when you feel sick is one of the best ways to get better quickly. Getting plenty of sleep and staying hydrated while sick can help you heal faster. Avoid close contact with others- when you are sick, it is important to avoid close contact with others to help prevent the spread of your illness. This includes avoiding school or work when you are sick. Wash your hands - one of the best ways to avoid getting sick is by washing your hands. This is the easiest and cheapest way to protect yourself and others from germs and illness. Stay out of crowded spaces - try to avoid crowded spaces that don't have adequate ventilation indoors, such as shopping malls and movie theaters during the flu season.
Symptoms of the flu can include a high fever, cough, muscle aches, and sometimes even vomiting and diarrhea. Other people are highly susceptible to developing bacterial co-infections such as Staph Aureus or the deadly bacteria, C. Difficile. The Australian flu and COVID-19 can lead to serious health complications, including pneumonia. Consequently, COVID-19 can have long-term effects like scarring of the lungs and neurological symptoms like depression, anxiety, trouble concentrating, loss of smell and taste and headaches. The best way to identify the flu and COVID-19 is by recognising the symptoms. If you have any of the above symptoms, it is important to protect yourself from others and seek out medical attention.
The best way to heal your body from the flu and COVID-19 is to rest and hydrate as much as you can. While you are sick, it is important to avoid close contact with others and wash your hands often. There are also over-the-counter medications available to help with the flu and its symptoms. It is also important to stay hydrated while you are sick. While the flu and COVID-19 can make you feel extremely tired, it is important not to ignore your need for water. Studies have shown that people who drink plenty of fluids while sick are less likely to be hospitalised than those who do not. Finally, you may want to consider staying home from work or school if you are sick. This can help prevent you from infecting others and also protect others from being infected by you.
Influenza, RSV and COVID-19 are some of the most serious issues facing the world today. There are many ways you can reduce the risk of the sickness cycle in your business. Sanity check whether your business offers access to good air quality, hand and surface sanitisation and of course, clean, well-equipped washrooms. Remember, if you are unsure or in doubt, you could be doing more to minimise the risk of the sickness cycle, call Initial Hygiene on 1300 043 018 today for your FREE on-premise Hygiene Audit.
Initial Hygiene is the leading air, hand, surface, and washroom provider of hygiene. Constantly, innovating to meet the demand of businesses and all commercial environments. Get in touch today on 0800 736 865 or contact us here for a free, no-obligation assessment of your current hygiene services.
Initial provides a wide range of highly effective and affordable innovative hygiene solutions to help protect your business.