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The Threat of Emerging Pathogens

In the news.

As of February 20, 2020, there have been eight confirmed cases of COVID-19 (formerly known as 2019-nCoV) in Canada (three in Ontario and five in British Columbia).2 The Public Health Agency of Canada (PHAC) is working with Ontario and international partners, including the World Health Organization (WHO), to actively monitor the situation. Currently PHAC has assessed the public health risk associated with COVID-19 as low for Canada. Public health risk is continually reassessed as new information becomes available.2

On January 30, 2020 WHO declared that the outbreak now meets the criteria for a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.3

Coronaviruses (CoV) are a family of enveloped viruses that were first discovered in the 1960s.

Coronaviruses are most commonly found in animals, including camels and bats, and are not typically transmitted between animals and humans; however, six strains of coronavirus were previously known to be capable of transmission from animals to humans, the most well- known being Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) CoV, responsible for a large outbreak in 2003, and Middle Eastern Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) CoV, responsible for an outbreak in 2012.4

According to Dr. Alison McGeer, infectious disease specialist at Mount Sinai Hospital, Toronto, cases being found in other countries suggests that screening systems are working, which is good news about the work underway to prevent a wider SARS-like outbreak.5 There have also been cases of person-to-person transmission outside of China.3

How does it spread?

Coronaviruses typically spread through the air via coughing or sneezing, via contact with an infected person or contaminated surfaces, and sometimes, but rarely, via fecal contamination.6 SARS-CoV-2,7 the virus that causes COVID-19, is thought to have originally spread from animals to humans, but there is growing evidence of person-to-person transmission. This pattern of transmission was also reported with SARS CoV and MERS CoV.PHAC has also issued an information sheet on COVID-19.9,10

Protection is paramount.

WHO has declared COVID-19 as a public health emergency of international concern.3

When the PHAC issues a public notice that an emerging viral pathogen poses a significant risk to Canadians or has been declared by the WHO as a public health emergency of international concern, manufacturers can communicate to the public about non-label efficacy of some currently available disinfectants against emerging pathogens, such as SARS-CoV-2.11

PHAC recommends the following infection control and prevention strategies to prevent or limit transmission of SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare facilities: prompt identification, appropriate risk assessment, management (including promotion of adherence to hand hygiene, use of personal protective equipment, etc.), placement of probable and confirmed cases, and investigation and follow-up of close contacts.12 PHAC also has additional information on prevention and risk from COVID-19 and an information line (1-833-784-4397).2

Plan to protect.

Under conditions of a public health emergency of international concern declared by PHAC or the WHO, Health Canada permits disinfectants to make non-label efficacy claims against the emerging viral pathogen if they have a broad-spectrum virucidal claim or for emerging viral pathogens or for which the taxonomic genus of the virus has been identified, efficacy data against other viruses within that genus may be considered acceptable (e.g., any coronavirus for a claim against the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2).11

The following Clorox® products all have a broad-spectrum virucidal claim and demonstrated effectiveness against coronaviruses. These products are expected to be effective against SARS-CoV-2 when used as directed:13

References:
1. Emerging infectious disease. Baylor College of Medicine. https://www.bcm.edu/departments/molecular-virology-and-microbiology/emerging-infections-and-biodefense/emerging-infectious-diseases. Accessed January 19, 2020.
2. Coronavirus disease (COVID-19): Outbreak update. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection.html. Accessed February 21, 2020.
3. WHO declares coronavirus outbreak an international emergency. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/world/who-reconvenes-assess-latest-coronavirus-1.5445775. Accessed January 30, 2020.
4. About human coronaviruses. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/index.html. Accessed January 31, 2020.
5. Key things to watch for in the coronavirus outbreak. CBC News. https://www.cbc.ca/news/health/coronavirus-china-canada-questions-1.5433986. Accessed January 22, 2020.
6. Transmission. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/about/transmission.html. Accessed February 4, 2020.
7. CDC grows SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, in cell culture. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/about/grows-virus-cell-culture.html. Accessed February 21, 2020.
8. 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) situation summary. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-nCoV/summary.html. Accessed February 4, 2020.
9. 2019 novel coronavirus. Public Health Agency of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/content/dam/phac-aspc/documents/services/publications/diseases-conditions/2019-novel-coronavirus-information-sheet/coronavirus-handout-eng.pdf. Accessed January 30, 2020.
10. Novel coronavirus infection: Frequently asked questions (FAQ). Public Health Agency of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/frequently-asked-questions.html. Accessed February 4, 2020.
11. Health Canada Guidance Document: Safety and efficacy requirements for hard surface disinfectant drugs. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/health-canada/services/drugs-health-products/drug-products/applications-submissions/guidance-documents/disinfectants/safety-efficacy-requirements-hard-surface-disinfectant-drugs.html#b5. Accessed January 27, 2020.
12. 2019 Novel coronavirus: For health professionals. Government of Canada. https://www.canada.ca/en/public-health/services/diseases/2019-novel-coronavirus-infection/health-professionals.html#i. Accessed February 5, 2020.
13. Data on file. The Clorox Company.