What to do when residents of an apartment building are infected?

This is part 56 of our coronavirus FAQ. Click here to read other installments: #Coronavirus the facts. Find the latest information and answers from experts on everything COVID-19.

A case in a building in Japan

Mizushima Yoshihiro, deputy chair of Zenkanren, the nationwide body of apartment building management associations in Japan, received an inquiry from residents of a building about what they should do to disinfect after two residents tested positive for the coronavirus.

Mizushima visited a local public health center and asked if the center could send staff to disinfect the building. But the center rejected the request, saying that since the building was privately owned, it could not disinfect it.

Residents disinfect common areas on their own

The health center instead offered advice on what residents need to keep in mind when disinfecting a building on their own. First off, the center says residents need to disinfect objects in communal areas that people often touch directly. This includes elevator buttons, handrails, bathrooms in shared spaces and door handles.

Don’t spray disinfectant in the air and directly onto objects

The center also says there is no need to spray disinfectant in the air because the virus is unlikely to remain airborne for long. It advises cleaners to soak kitchen paper with an 0.05% sodium hypochlorite solution and wipe down every surface meticulously.

The center also says it is best for cleaners to not spray the solution directly onto objects as they could inadvertently inhale the harmful vapor themselves. Also, uneven spraying can leave small gaps and result in imperfect disinfection.

Please note that the center’s advice applies only to cases in Japan. Public health centers in other countries may respond differently.

This information is accurate as of Sept. 24, 2020.