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City of St. Albert using nocospray to protect against COVID-19

City of St. Albert using nocospray to protect against the coronavirus
WATCH ABOVE: The City of St. Albert is using a disinfecting spray called nocospray to help protect people from the coronavirus, and now it's in high demand. Nicole Stillger reports.

Like many front-line services, the St. Albert Fire Department is taking extra precautions to combat the spread of the coronavirus. That includes using a sterilizer called “nocospray.”

“It’s a first for [St. Albert],” said St. Albert Fire Department chief Bernd Gretzinger. “We have two units now: three are designated for the emergency services and one for the rest of the city.”

Nocospray is a hydrogen peroxide-based liquid. It’s dispersed by a portable machine that converts the liquid into vapour — disinfecting all hard surfaces.

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“The intent is for it to cover 100 per cent of the physical surfaces in every aspect — every nook and cranny of your vehicle,” said City of St. Albert health and safety advisor Kevin Keith.

“Not only is it being used in our fire trucks, ambulances and apparatus — we can use it in offices and physical building spaces as well.”

READ MORE: Phone data shows Canadians avoiding restaurants, transit, stores, offices

The product is developed by Montreal-based AMG Medical and is Health Canada approved. For the past decade, they’ve specialized in infection control products like nocospray.

Image of a nocospray machine.
Image of a nocospray machine. Credit: nocospray.ca

“It basically gets to those spots of any type of room or ambulance that a person cannot see, or cannot easily reach, because the form of the gas penetrates everything,” AMG Medical president Philip del Buey explained.

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“We are seeing double-digit reductions in infection rates.”

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He said it’s been a challenge keeping people supplied and it will take a couple of months before they are fully stocked again.

“There are thousands of machines around the world and we’ve seen an unprecedented demand for this product,” del Buey said.

“We were already ramping up, but the speed and veracity of the demand — it’s been quite sudden.”

He noted the shortage of N95 masks and said “a number of facilities are now starting to use nocospray to disinfect previously used N95 masks.”

READ MORE: First response during the reality of COVID-19

St. Albert feels its ahead of the curve. “We were starting preparations…in early to mid-January,” Keith explained.

Cities like Leduc and Lethbridge are also using nocospray, but Keith said now they are “getting interest from other services around the province.”

“The lens is on the City of St. Albert in some ways, because we appear to be doing things a little differently than some other people,” Keith said.

On average, they are using the spray about seven times per day. So far, they said, it seems to be working.

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Ultimately, the goal is to protect people from getting COVID-19.

“Not that it was a hard thing to buy into, but everybody has bought into it,” Gretzinger said. “Proud of the fact that they are protected the way they are.”

The City of Edmonton said nocospray machines have been ordered and should be here next week.

Questions about COVID-19? Here are some things you need to know:

Health officials caution against all international travel. Returning travellers are legally obligated to self-isolate for 14 days, beginning March 26, in case they develop symptoms and to prevent spreading the virus to others. Some provinces and territories have also implemented additional recommendations or enforcement measures to ensure those returning to the area self-isolate.

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Symptoms can include fever, cough and difficulty breathing — very similar to a cold or flu. Some people can develop a more severe illness. People most at risk of this include older adults and people with severe chronic medical conditions like heart, lung or kidney disease. If you develop symptoms, contact public health authorities.

To prevent the virus from spreading, experts recommend frequent handwashing and coughing into your sleeve. They also recommend minimizing contact with others, staying home as much as possible and maintaining a distance of two metres from other people if you go out.

For full COVID-19 coverage from Global News, click here.