Water, Sanitation, Hygiene & Waste Management Guidelines – WHO

The provision of safe water, hygienic conditions, and sanitation are vital during all kinds of infectious outbreaks, including the current crisis regarding COVID-19. The primary agenda of following proper waste management practices and hygiene in schools, homes, marketplaces, and any other health facilities is to prevent the human-to-human transmission of the coronavirus.

While there is no evidence about the survival of the coronavirus in water and sewage, the investigations are still in process. This document tells the necessary guidelines to protect drinking water and sewage from being contaminated.


A basic overview of COVID-19:

  • Two transmission routes: contact and respiratory.
  • Respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes. Anybody coming in contact with the infected person or contact with the droplets can potentially serve as a source of transmission.
  • It is an enveloped virus with a fragile outer membrane.
  • Generally, enveloped viruses are unstable and are susceptible to oxidants like chlorine.

Persistence Of COVID-19 In Drinking Water

Although there are no reports of coronavirus detection in drinking water, there have to be proper measures taken to ensure improved water safety.

  • Protecting the source water
  • Treating water before the point of distribution
  • Collection of water
  • Storage of drinking water at home in covered containers with regular cleaning

The most conventional and centralized water treatments using filtration and disinfection are likely to inactivate the COVID-19 virus. As the COVID-19 virus is an enveloped virus, it is surrounded by a lipid host cell membrane that is sensitive to chlorine and other oxidant disinfection processes.

Waste Water And Faecal Management

There is no evidence that the COVID-19 virus is transmitted with or without wastewater management. However, like public healthcare policy, wastewater and sewage systems should be treated in centralized wastewater treatments.

A disinfection step should be added to the wastewater treatment method if not done already, to remove viruses optimally. Also, workers need to wear appropriate protective equipment, including protective outerwear, boots, gloves, face shield or goggles, and a mask.

Additionally, hand hygiene is essential for workers at sanitation treatment facilities. They should avoid touching their eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Water And Sanitation In Healthcare Facilities

For health care settings, it is highly crucial to practice the existing recommendations for water, hygiene, and sanitation. The particularly essential practices are:

  • Frequent hand hygiene with proper technique
  • Managing excreta safely to ensure there is no contact or transmission caused by incorrect disposal
  • Regular cleaning and disinfecting practices
  • Managing other healthcare waste

Sanitation For COVID-19 Positives

All positive patients of COVID-19 should be provided with separate flush toilet or latrine with properly functioning drain traps. It should be disconnected from the other patients’ rooms. The restrooms should be flushed when covered to avoid any splatter and aerosol clouds and conduct proper and frequent hand hygiene in case of direct or suspected contact with feces.

WHO recommends 70% ethyl alcohol for smaller equipment like thermometer and sodium hypochlorite at 0.5% for disinfecting surfaces.

This Technical Brief supplements existing IPC documents by referring to and summarizing WHO guidance on water, sanitation and health care waste which is relevant for viruses (including coronaviruses). This Technical Brief is written in particular for water and sanitation practitioners and providers.

Download PDF –  WHO-2019-nCoV-IPC_WASH-2020.2-eng

Source – https://www.who.int/publications-detail/water-sanitation-hygiene-and-waste-management-for-covid-19

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