Managing Risks Related to Covid-19 (Wuhan Coronavirus) - Discussion

Last updated: 26th February 2020


Briefing for Hospitality Laundries
Briefing for Hospitality Sector
NB: While TSA and UKH have made every attempt to ensure the accuracy and reliability of the information contained in this document, the content is for general information purposes only and should not be used as a substitute for consultation with professional advisers. We do not represent, warrant, undertake or guarantee that the use of this document will lead to any particular outcome or result. We shall not be liable to you in respect of any business losses, including without limitation loss of or damage to profits, income, revenue, use, production, anticipated savings, business, contracts, commercial opportunities or goodwill.


This following section is intended to begin a discussion on operational aspects of laundries such as detailed risk assessment, employee awareness, policies and considerations on personal protective equipment to help manage risks related to Wuhan novel coronavirus (Covid-19).

Covid-19 infection is classified as an airborne high consequence infectious disease (HCID). There are now several confirmed cases of Covid-19 infection in the UK - Based on the World Health Organization’s declaration that this is a public health emergency of international concern, the UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public from low to moderate. Generally, coronavirus can cause more severe symptoms in people with weakened immune systems, older people, and those with long-term conditions like diabetes, cancer and chronic lung disease.

Risk Assessment

TSA recommends a detailed risk assessment covering at least the following aspects (not in any order of priority):

  1. Identifying stock exposure to suspected/ known cases – this is one of the most crucial part of your risk management and requires working closely with your healthcare, hospitality and food customer base. There have been cases of persons of suspected infection staying in hotel rooms serviced by textile services operators.
  2. Employee awareness – Employee awareness of the symptoms and the nature of this infection, would prove highly effective in working together to manage risk. Additionally, consider ways to fill gaps in understanding the use and care of PPE and related procedures. Reference Link: Laundry and Cleaning News Article by LTC Worlwide 
  3. Sanitization facilities for your employees – Provision for adequate facilities for your staff to follow standard procedures on infection control – hand sanitization etc.
  4. Staff symptoms reporting – In accordance with Public Health England’s recommendations, anyone returning to work should declare if they have been to any of the affected countries. Reference Link: The risk assessment should consider procedures in place for staff to report any related symptoms.
  5. Sorting staff health / pre-existing conditions – your risk assessment may consider ways to reduce risks relating to any unknown / unanticipated exposure, giving particular attention to sorting staff with weakened immune or pre-existing conditions.
  6. Procedures in relation to managing visitors – The aspects of reporting of visits to affected countries, sanitization,  symptoms etc. as detailed in point 4.
  7. PPE/RPE - Depending on the results of the local risk assessment, consider options regarding Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and/or Respiratory Protective Equipment (RPE) after all other reasonably practicable measures have been introduced to prevent or control exposure.
  8. Handling and care of PPE – Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology in one of its reports states that in the absence of rigorous decontamination, viruses may survive on objects of personal protective equipment (PPE) for hours, posing a continued risk of transfer to the wearer during handling over multiple uses. A good hand hygiene procedure should be made available for after PPE removal and between changes for preventing the spread of infection. This kind of viruses may survive better on non-porous surfaces than on porous as one study showed they survived on a disposable gown for 2 days and on cotton for up to 24 hours. ((Lai et al., 2005)

Decision on How to Handle Textile Articles Exposed to Suspected or Known Cases

Coronoavirus is a lipid enveloped virus and can survive on surfaces for several days; therefore, infected (confirmed / known cases) linen may pose a risk to laundry staff through textile or contaminated surfaces/PPE. Laundry operations should be able to make a final decision on whether to take the linen back to the laundry to be processed or would they like the linen in question incinerated. Thermal or chemical-thermal laundering processes i.e. (competently validated and /or BS EN 14065 certified  process) may be adequate to inactivate lipid enveloped viruses in textiles. There does not appear to be any specific guidance in the published literature. Public Health England have provided specific response to the TSA as follows.

'The infected linen should be bagged in accordance with infection control procedures. Current decontamination guidance for the NHS states ‘After cleaning with neutral detergent, a chlorine-based disinfectant should be used, in the form of a solution at a minimum strength of 1,000ppm available chlorine’.

Individual operators should consider robust procedures to collect, sort and disinfect the linen. We will endavour to update this page as soon as we have more information available. 

Additionally, the Section on Management of Linen,  Page 11 of WHO’s Interim Infection Prevention and Control with a focus on Ebola provides clear guidance on managing linen.

Reference Link:



ACAS - Coronavirus: advice for employers and employees

Information Made Available by the TSA Premium Supply Partners



Ecolab - Infection Prevention Measures Christeyns - Information Sheet;jsessionid=5ECEC5341C60AC3D57E5E8C98C3D346E?sequence=1

Casanova, L., Rutala, W.A., Weber, D.J. and Sobsey, M.D., 2010. Coronavirus survival on healthcare personal protective equipment. Infection Control & Hospital Epidemiology, 31(5), pp.560-561.

Geller, C., Varbanov, M. and Duval, R.E., 2012. Human coronaviruses: insights into environmental resistance and its influence on the development of new antiseptic strategies. Viruses, 4(11), pp.3044-3068.

Lai, M.Y., Cheng, P.K. and Lim, W.W., 2005. Survival of severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus. Clinical Infectious Diseases, 41(7), pp.e67-e71.

Sattar, S.A., Springthorpe, V.S., Karim, Y. and Loro, P., 1989. Chemical disinfection of non-porous inanimate surfaces experimentally contaminated with four human pathogenic viruses. Epidemiology & Infection, 102(3), pp.493-505.

Wang, X.W., Li, J.S., Jin, M., Zhen, B., Kong, Q.X., Song, N., Xiao, W.J., Yin, J., Wei, W., Wang, G.J. and Si, B.Y., 2005. Study on the resistance of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus. Journal of virological methods, 126(1-2), pp.171-177.


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