With the COVID–19 pandemic spreading at an alarming rate, the importance of personal cleanliness has become more important than it has ever been. Furthermore, once the lockdown is lifted, it will just increase the vulnerability of those who are left unprotected. The use of community toilets and public restrooms is a high-risk activity in this area. To address the issue, smart toilets and restrooms of the future could be a viable solution. The question is whether sanitaryware makers will be able to meet the demands of the market.
Impact of COVID–19 on water consumption
Since the onset of COVID–19, the importance of personal hygiene has increased by a factor of several hundred. As a preventive precaution against the virus, multilateral institutions and government agencies from around the world have been providing guidelines and instructions on safe water, sanitation, and proper hygiene (WASH) on a regular basis. The need of maintaining basic hand washing habits is emphasized in particular—a simple gesture that can go a long way toward saving lives.
In tandem with the growing significance placed on personal hygiene and maintaining the cleanliness of one’s immediate surroundings, the average amount of water consumed by each individual has increased during the current pandemic.
In the period from mid-March to May 2020, municipal authorities and regional administrative bodies around the world indicate a 10–60 percent increase in water usage, reflecting an increase in public awareness of the importance of personal cleanliness in the wake of the outbreak. In the next months, it is anticipated that water usage will stay high until the disease has been controlled.
Community/public toilets: A major source of infection
It is highly contagious and can be spread by touch or contamination with other people. Because the virus is spread through respiratory droplets, a person can become infected simply by coming into contact with the surface that is holding the respiratory droplets. Because they share community bathrooms, the economically disadvantaged sections of society are more vulnerable to the risk of spreading disease. This is especially true in developing nations where toilets are rarely cleaned or maintained, increasing the risk of infection by orders of magnitude.
It is also possible that shared bathrooms in commercial places and offices pose a risk. Therefore, it would be advantageous to have appropriate sanitation-related facilities in place in order to prevent the spread of the infection. Having smart sanitation systems that are capable of making ‘intelligent’ use of water could be the first line of defense against the virus, according to experts.
Sanitary solutions are available
As businesses such as workplaces and retail malls reopen, the number of people using public restrooms will rise as well. Given the risks involved with toilets, where a large number of hands come into contact with the taps and faucets, specific procedures (which may include a financial component) must be implemented to ensure that they are’safe’ to use. Restrooms in public or commercial settings could be constructed with the idea of keeping them as germ-free as possible.
Some of the remedies that can be implemented in the short-to-medium term are as follows:
- Touch-free taps/faucets or sensor taps are both options.
- Sensor doors that open and allow movement without the need for users to touch handles are becoming increasingly popular.
- A wash basin with sensor taps and faucets, as well as a soap dispenser and hand dryers, are all included.
- At the entrance to the lavatory, free-standing dispensers with a foot pedal are stationed; dispensers are linked to a sensor, which offers real-time information on the status of the dispensing solution’s refill.
- Toilets with a self-cleaning system are available.
Role of sanitaryware manufacturers
Because of COVID–19, the global community has been forced to reevaluate sanitation and hygiene standards, particularly in public restrooms, resulting in increased demand for their repair.
It has raised awareness of the importance of smart toilets and bathrooms, as well as the necessity for them. Their popularity is projected to grow in the next years, particularly in North America and Europe. In order to meet the needs of developing countries, sanitaryware makers must offer innovative sanitation solutions that are both effective and affordable. The penetration of medium- to high-priced smart sanitation systems will accelerate once users recognize the value they are receiving from them. –
The pandemic has generated chances for sanitaryware makers, as their products would aid in the fight against the disease around the world. As a result, stakeholders in the sanitaryware industry should rise to the occasion and channel their resources toward the development and introduction of cost-effective, intelligent, and sustainable solutions that will not only aid in the fight against the current pandemic but also serve as the foundation for the future of public hygiene.