With the outbreak of the Novel Coronavirus or COVID-19, the cleanliness and hygiene of any hotel has become the top priority of the traveler around the world. As the world lifts its lockdown in phases and the hospitality industry resumes operation in the ‘new normal’, health security has become a priority for everyone.
The COVID-19 pandemic is showing no signs of slowing down, but the world is opening up. People are stepping out more often to go to work, shopping and even meeting friends, which is a clear indication that life is slowly returning to normal.
While hand sanitizers and masks have become a part of our lives, many gadgets in the market claim to kill the coronavirus or at least restrict the spread of Coronavirus. UVC (Ultra-violet) radiation is a known disinfectant for air, water, and non-porous surfaces. It has effectively been used for decades to reduce the spread of bacteria.
“Many scientific studies are showing that UVC radiation can effectively kill viruses and may help fight the pandemic. Introduction or use of UVC technology in the hotels will be an added assurance for the guests regarding the cleanliness and hygiene of the premises,” says Sushma Dahal, Executive Housekeeper at InterContinental Hotels Group, Qatar, who brings over 14 years of extensive and rich experience to the table and has successfully and efficiently handled housekeeping operations.
How does UVC work?
Using ultraviolet light to get rid of germs isn’t a new concept, as it has been used since the early 20th century. UV light within a certain wavelength has the ability to deactivate microorganisms by acting on its DNA and RNA. And while pathogens can develop resistance to chemicals, they can’t to UVC light. Chemical cleaners actually need to sit on a surface for two to five minutes (depending on the brand) to be effective, making them extremely inefficient for quick cleaning or the cleaning of several hundred items, like hotel key cards. Using UVC rays with certain limits is always advisable for hotels and hospital particular areas.
Is UVC effective against COVID-19?
According to the FDA, UVC light can be used to kill the new coronavirus. UVC radiation has been shown to destroy the outer protein coating of the SARS-Coronavirus, which is a different virus from the current SARS-CoV-2 virus. The destruction ultimately leads to inactivation of the virus. UVC radiation may also be effective in inactivating the SARS-CoV-2 virus, which is the virus that causes the Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19). However, currently there is limited published data about the wavelength, dose, and duration of UVC radiation required to inactivate the SARS-CoV-2 virus.
“UVC light can effectively kill SARS-CoV-2 or other coronaviruses in liquids, on surfaces, or in the air. Due to the fact that it presents less of a health hazard, UVC may be a good option for disinfection,” says Mansi Saxena, Executive Housekeeper at Lusail Hospitality Service, Qatar.
Mansi further highlights the application areas of UVC. She says that this technology is particularly effective for use in the supply of water to pools and small ponds with small fish and plants. Small UV torches can also be used for checking the rooms and for checking the areas where deep cleaning has been done. It is also placed in the supply of air through main air ducts.
In unison, Sushma Dahal also reiterates the fact that hotels and restaurants have a large number of points of interaction that are used by employees and guests. She highlights some of these touchpoints that can be a source of transmission of harmful viruses and bacteria:
- Check-in and informational kiosks
- Payment devices
- Order taking stands
- On-table devices
UVC technology can help in effectively disinfecting surfaces from germicidal bacteria that fuel the growth of viruses at one go. By its usage, we are not only eliminating the viruses that are responsible for this pandemic but also creating a future safety net of protection for possible stronger viruses that could affect life.
The efficacy and performance of this technology can be monitored by a medical swab and ATP kit.
Effect of the pandemic on the adoption of this technology
“It is highly useful for those who know how to use it. It saves the time of the cleaning staff,” says Mansi. “UV can be used to reduce the risk of transmission through both routes. UV lights can be components of mobile machines, whether robotic or human-controlled, that disinfect surfaces. They can also be incorporated in HVAC systems or otherwise positioned within airflows to disinfect indoor air. However, UV portals that are meant to disinfect people as they enter indoor spaces are likely ineffective and potentially hazardous,” she concludes.
Limitations of the UVC technology
Like everything else, UVC has its pros and cons. While the technology can prove to be a blessing in getting rid of the coronavirus, it has its limitations too.
- Direct exposure
According to the FDA, UVC radiation can only inactivate a virus if the virus is directly exposed to the radiation. Therefore, the inactivation of viruses on surfaces may not be effective due to blocking of the UV radiation by soil, such as dust, or other contaminants such as bodily fluids.
- Dose and duration
What dose and level of exposure is enough to destroy the virus is not yet established.
- Health hazards
UVC radiation is commonly used inside air ducts to disinfect the air. This is the safest way to employ UVC radiation because direct UVC exposure to human skin or eyes may cause injuries, and installation of UVC within an air duct is less likely to cause exposure to skin and eyes. There have been reports of skin and eye burns resulting from improper installation of UVC lamps in rooms that humans can occupy.
Despite this - it is evident that UVC technology does more good than harm if used effectively and safely - like most other technologies.