As the coronavirus has spread, demand for cleaning services has unsurprisingly surged, with high-tech cleaning specialist REACT among those to see a rise in demand.

“As a specialist cleaning, hygiene and decontamination business, REACT experienced almost overwhelming demand for deep cleaning and decontamination services in early March as organisations sought to mitigate the risks of infection for people working in or visiting their premises,” Shaun Doak, CEO of REACT, tells Verdict.

“Whilst we saw demand in the commercial sector easing, this was in stark contrast with the other parts of the economy relied on to keep the country going during lockdown. Sectors including food processing, logistics, the judiciary, rail network and of course health all needed highly effective and intensified cleaning regimes.”

But REACT’s approach to cleaning doesn’t simply involve heavy use of products from a typical supermarket’s household supplies aisle. Instead the organisation uses some serious technology to effectively remove potential traces of the coronavirus, bacteria and any other rogue elements that may be present.

REACT high-tech cleaning and the coronavirus

Core to REACT’s approach is the use of a molecule known as adenosine triphosphate (ATP).

“We use state of the art ATP Testing Machines to ascertain the impact cleaning has had on a given area or surface. ATP is an energy carrying molecule, found in the cells of all living things, such as bacteria,” says Doak.

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“By swabbing an area and then measuring the amount of light produced during the swabs reaction with an enzyme called luciferase (which is produced from fireflies), it allows us to assess the amount of biological energy present. This measurement, given in relative light units (RLU), allows us to establish a before clean baseline, which then enables us to see the effectiveness of the clean when retested after.”

This method enables REACT to measure how clean a surface is after being treated – which is key to industrial cleaning at any time, but particularly during the coronavirus pandemic.

“The expectation is that after a decontamination has taken place, the ATP reading will be at a maximum of 20 RLU. As a point of reference, if you were to take a swab of your hand, the levels would be in excess of 600 RLU,” he says.

“This information also enables us to establish high risk / high use touch points within a client’s site, to adapt their cleaning programme accordingly and of course, give reassurance on the effectiveness of the clean.”

coronavirus cleaning react
Shaun Doak, CEO of React.

Keeping workers safe

Of course, while REACT’s service is designed to ensure companies’ working environments are safe, the company also needs to ensure that it is effectively protecting its own workers, which has not only involved enacting remote working, but also take extra caution in protecting those carrying out cleaning tasks.

“REACT took the decision before the official restrictions came into force to move everyone to remote working.  We had the systems and processes to enable this quickly with little or no impact to the operational integrity of the business,” said Doak.

“Whilst we have extensive experience in dealing with the deep cleaning and decontamination of property, little was factually known about SARS-CoV-2 other than it was highly contagious, potentially dangerous and could be disabled using the same methods used to address the SARS outbreak in 2002-2004. This involves using a viricidal disinfectant to destroy the protein and what is known as the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the virus to prevent it from infecting other cells.

“As a result, we chose to be ultra-cautious in protecting our operators, equipping them with PPE beyond the standards being recommended by Public Health England.”

As a result, REACT cleaners work in outfits reminiscent of those used by front-line NHS employees.

“REACT operators work in a full protective body suit, gloves and an FFP3 level face mask leaving no area of skin uncovered. We also performed refresher training to be certain our operators are as best prepared as possible to keep themselves safe and deliver effective decontamination services,” he said.

“The measures taken to help our experienced operators feel both safe and valued are very important, especially when dealing with a virus that so little was known about.”

Changing demands amid the pandemic

While REACT has seen a surge in business during the coronavirus outbreak, it has also seen a change in the types of companies that are using its service.

“We have always had a broad customer base due to the universal need for specialist cleaning, however we have seen a significant rise in demand across all active sectors following the outbreak,” says Doak.

“From judiciary transport to a military airbase, every operational, or soon to be, business needs to ensure their response to Covid-19 is as immediate and comprehensive as possible. They must ensure the safety of their staff and customers.”

He also believes that as the lockdown lifts, demonstrating effective cleaning approaches will be vital to companies’ ability to maintain customer trust.

“The standard and care of hygiene will be absolutely vital in a company’s ability inspire confidence that their premises are safe,” he says.

“Without this, I believe we’ll see significant fallouts and business decline as a result.”

Read more: Coronavirus case studies: How Masks For Docs is getting PPE where it’s needed