In late 2019, an acute respiratory disease emerged, known as novel coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19). The pathogen responsible for COVID-19 is severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2, also referred to as the COVID-19 virus), a member of the coronavirus family. In response to the growing spread of COVID-19, WHO has published a number of technical guidance documents on specific topics, including infection prevention and control (IPC).

The technical brief supplement the IPC documents by referencing and summarizing the WHO guidance on water, sanitation and health care waste that is relevant to viruses, including coronaviruses. This technical brief is written, in particular, for water and sanitation practitioners and providers. It is also for health care providers who want to know more about water, sanitation and hygiene (WASH) risks and practices.

The provision of safe water, sanitation and hygienic conditions are essential to protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including the COVID-19 outbreak. Ensuring good and consistently applied WASH and waste management practices in communities, homes, schools, marketplaces and health care facilities will further help to prevent human-to-human transmission of the COVID-19 virus.

The most important information concerning WASH and the COVID-19 virus is summarized here.