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Coronavirus: Cleaning firms struggling to keep up with demand

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Cleaners at work inside a Halifax call centre in Belfast city centre which has been temporarily closed over coronavirus

Cleaners at work inside a Halifax call centre in Belfast city centre which has been temporarily closed over coronavirus

Photopress

A Halifax call centre in Belfast city centre which has been temporarily closed over coronavirus

A Halifax call centre in Belfast city centre which has been temporarily closed over coronavirus

Donna Monteith

Donna Monteith

Cleaners at work inside a Halifax call centre in Belfast city centre which has been temporarily closed over coronavirus

Cleaning companies have reported "mayhem" as businesses and householders seek to protect their premises from coronavirus.

The Halifax call centre at the Gasworks in Belfast was closed for emergency cleaning on Tuesday after a staff member tested positive for the virus.

It was also announced on Tuesday that four more cases had been confirmed here, bringing the total number to 16.

Donna Monteith, the owner of Belfast-based cleaning company Pristine Cleaning, said she had received hundreds of extra calls over the past week for office cleaning and supplies.

"It's been mayhem," she said. "The demand this week has been exhausting.

"The hand sanitiser is all gone and now it's all hand gel and handwash.

"We've had a couple of companies install mounted wall dispensers because people are stealing bottles from work."

Mrs Monteith said some companies were also asking to hire her cleaning staff on a full-time basis.

"Some we can accommodate and some we can't. Some existing customers want to quadruple their cleaning requirements overnight as well," she added.

The focus of the cleaning will be on frequent contact points such as door handles, chairs and keyboards.

Donna also advises customers in offices not to overlook items such as keycards and mobile phones.

"Over the last week, for both our cleaning and hygiene services, we're getting hundreds of enquiries," she said.

"A lot of it is from existing customers. Then we had one who hasn't used us for five years but asked for five litres of hand gel."

Michael Crawford, the owner of the Cleanwell cleaning company, which offers corporate cleaning to a long list of major firms has had similar problems.

"There has been an inordinate amount of calls regarding various services from keyboard cleaning to deep cleans, post and pre-cleans," he said.

"There's certainly been an upsurge in that and in demand for sanitary products from hand wipes to hand gels."

He said suppliers had been struggling to keep up with the demand, but the company has kept extra stock. "It's hard to quantify the exact numbers, but we're getting a lot of calls for deep cleans in the offices and enquiries about the type of cleaning products they need. A lot of it is about making sure that contact points such as door handles are covered," he added.

Clare Getty is the managing director of Getty Cleaning Services in Newtownabbey.

"We haven't seen an increased demand yet, but we did send advice out to our clients about stepping up not only their own personal hygiene at home but within the workplace," she said.

"I'm finding people are tending to be quite cynical about it all, saying it's just a flu, but that might change as the week goes on.

"Northern Ireland isn't yet seeing the same level of cases as the UK, so people haven't taken it as seriously.

"But I've ordered in protective equipment like overalls and masks in case that does happen. We're prepared as we don't want to struggle if this becomes needed."

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