COVID19 - How to Protect Yourself & Others

Wear a mask

Everyone 2 years and older should wear masks in public.

Masks should be worn in addition to staying at least 6 feet apart, especially around people who don’t live with you.

If someone in your household is infected, people in the household should take precautions including wearing masks to avoid spread to others.

Wash your hands or use hand sanitizer before putting on your mask.

Wear your mask over your nose and mouth and secure it under your chin.

Fit the mask snugly against the sides of your face, slipping the loops over your ears or tying the strings behind your head.

If you have to continually adjust your mask, it doesn’t fit properly, and you might need to find a different mask type or brand.

Make sure you can breathe easily.

Effective February 2, 2021, masks are required on planes, buses, trains, and other forms of public transportation traveling into, within, or out of the United States and in U.S. transportation hubs such as airports and stations.​

Stay 6 feet away from others

Inside your home: Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
If possible, maintain 6 feet between the person who is sick and other household members.
Outside your home: Put 6 feet of distance between yourself and people who don’t live in your household.
Remember that some people without symptoms may be able to spread virus.
Stay at least 6 feet (about 2 arm lengths) from other people.
Keeping distance from others is especially important for people who are at higher risk of getting very sick.

Get Vaccinated

Authorized COVID-19 vaccines can help protect you from COVID-19.
You should get a COVID-19 vaccine when it is available to you.
Once you are fully vaccinated, you may be able to start doing some things that you had stopped doing because of the pandemic.

Avoid crowds and poorly ventilated spaces

Being in crowds like in restaurants, bars, fitness centers, or movie theaters puts you at higher risk for COVID-19.
Avoid indoor spaces that do not offer fresh air from the outdoors as much as possible.
If indoors, bring in fresh air by opening windows and doors, if possible.

Wash your hands often

Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.
It’s especially important to wash:
Before eating or preparing food
Before touching your face
After using the restroom
After leaving a public place
After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
After handling your mask
After changing a diaper
After caring for someone sick
After touching animals or pets
If soap and water are not readily available, use a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. Cover all surfaces of your hands and rub them together until they feel dry.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth with unwashed hands.

Cover coughs and sneezes

Always cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze or use the inside of your elbow and do not spit.
Throw used tissues in the trash.
Immediately wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. If soap and water are not readily available, clean your hands with a hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol.

Clean and disinfect

Clean AND disinfect frequently touched surfaces daily. This includes tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks.
If surfaces are dirty, clean them. Use detergent or soap and water prior to disinfection.
Then, use a household disinfectant. Use products from EPA’s List N: Disinfectants for Coronavirus (COVID-19)external icon according to manufacturer’s labeled directions.

Monitor your health daily

Be alert for symptoms. Watch for fever, cough, shortness of breath, or other symptoms of COVID-19.
Especially important if you are running essential errands, going into the office or workplace, and in settings where it may be difficult to keep a physical distance of 6 feet.
Take your temperature if symptoms develop.
Don’t take your temperature within 30 minutes of exercising or after taking medications that could lower your temperature, like acetaminophen.
Follow CDC guidance if symptoms develop.

 

Updated March 8th 2021
https://www.cdc.gov


1.8 Billion People Are at Higher Risk of COVID-19 Due to No Water or Sanitation at Health Facilities

“Water, sanitation, and hygiene in health care facilities are fundamental to stopping COVID-19.”

Why Global Citizens Should Care:
Access to water and sanitation is key to ensuring good health and well-being. The United Nations urges countries to ensure that all people have equal and safe access to water, sanitation and hygiene infrastructure. You can join us and take action on this issue here.

Approximately 1.8 billion health workers and patients are at higher risk of COVID-19 and other diseases due to lack of basic water and sanitation services at health facilities, according to a report published Monday by the World Health Organization (WHO) and United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

The new report, titled “Fundamentals First: Universal Water, Sanitation, and Hygiene Services in Health Care Facilities for Safe, Quality Care,” found that 1 in 4 health care facilities globally has no water services, while 1 in 3 has no proper access to hand hygiene to help prevent infections. Meanwhile, 1 in 10 health care facilities doesn’t have any sanitation services and 1 in 3 does not separate waste safely.

“Working in a health care facility without water, sanitation, and hygiene is akin to sending nurses and doctors to work without personal protective equipment,” Dr. Tedros Adhanom, director-general of the WHO, said in a news release about the report.

“Water supply, sanitation, and hygiene in health care facilities are fundamental to stopping COVID-19. But there are still major gaps to overcome, particularly in least-developed countries,” he added.

In the world’s least-developed countries, half of all health care facilities lack basic water services, 25% do not have hand hygiene at points of care, and 60% lack basic sanitation services.

While these kinds of disparities in health care facilities existed before COVID-19, the crisis has exacerbated them. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the WHO has recommended basic good hygiene as one of the most important ways to fight COVID-19, advising everyone to “regularly and thoroughly clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water.” Without access to water and sanitation services, health care workers and patients are without that first line of defense.

Experts are calling for action to improve water, sanitation, and hygiene (WASH) facilities after the coronavirus pandemic highlighted disparities between global health services.

“As we reimagine and shape a post-COVID world, making sure we are sending children and mothers to places of care equipped with adequate water, sanitation, and hygiene services is not merely something we can and should do,” said UNICEF Executive Director Henrietta Fore. “It is an absolute must.”

Access to hygiene and sanitation is especially important for vulnerable populations, such as pregnant mothers, newborns, and children. The WHO also found that better WASH facilities could save 1 million pregnant women and newborns’ lives and reduce stillbirths.

The WHO and UNICEF reported that it would cost roughly $1 per person to ensure that all of the least-developed countries have water services. It would take 20 cents per person to operate and maintain the services.

Investing in WASH infrastructure is fundamental to improving the quality of life and care around the world. According to the WHO and UNICEF, every $1 invested in hygiene and sanitation has a return of $1.50 as a result of health care-associated infections decreasing and health workers not having to search for handwashing facilities.

https://www.globalcitizen.org


When and How to Clean Your Phone During the COVID-19 Outbreak

During the COVID-19 pandemic, it’s important to clean commonly touched surfaces.

One type of surface that we touch frequently is our phone touch screen.
Phone touch screens can usually be cleaned using disinfecting wipes, but check with the maker of your phone first.
Frequency of cleaning will vary depending on your habits and the likelihood of exposure.

All data and statistics are based on publicly available data at the time of publication. Some information may be out of date. Visit our coronavirus hub and follow our live updates page for the most recent information on the COVID-19 pandemic.

With the recent outbreak of COVID-19, there has been much attention placed on preventive actionsTrusted Source, such as handwashing, staying home when we are sick, and cleaning commonly touched surfaces.

Regarding the latter, however, there is one type of surface that we may be neglecting: the touch screens and carrying cases for our phones.

“Touch screens on our devices are an often overlooked source of microbes that can be brought into our personal space,” noted Dr. David Westenberg, associate professor of biological sciences at Missouri University of Science and Technology.

In fact, numerous studiesTrusted Source have found that our cellphones can be carriers of microbial life forms, including bacteria, viruses, and fungi.

While many of these are harmless, according to Westenberg, there are also disease-causing organisms like the SARS-CoV-2 virus that can survive on surfaces long enough to be transmitted to you or another person.
Do you need to be cleaning your phone?

If you are washing your hands already, just how important is it to also clean your phone?

Westenberg said that if people wash their hands before touching their devices, that would ordinarily be enough to prevent us from transferring the virus through touch.

“However, as often as we touch our devices, washing our hands before every new contact with the device would be impractical,” he said.

In fact, according to a 2019 survey by research firm dscout, the average person touches their cellphone 2,617 times daily.

In light of this fact, Westenberg said wiping down the touch screens and cases of our phones “should be a part of our routine.”

How to clean your phone

First and foremost, you will want to consult the website for the manufacturer of your phone or carrying case for any specific instructions that they might have in order to avoid damaging your device or case.

Many manufacturers, including Apple, have provided recommendations due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

While specific instructions may vary depending on your device, Apple is advising the following for its products:

Use only a soft, lint-free cloth.
Avoid excessive wiping.
Unplug all power sources, devices, and cables.
Keep liquids away from your device.
Don’t allow moisture to get into any openings.
Avoid aerosol sprays, bleaches, and abrasives.
Avoid spraying cleaners directly onto your device.

Apple is recommending the use of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipes or Clorox Disinfecting Wipes to wipe down any hard, nonporous surfaces.

However, they say you should avoid using them on leather or fabric to prevent damage.

According to Dr. Donald W. Schaffner, extension specialist in food science and distinguished professor at Rutgers University, these are “fairly gentle disinfectants.”

However, you should avoid using chlorine bleach, according to Schaffner. This could damage your phone.

Westenberg further suggested that keeping your phone in a sealed case will make it easier to wipe it down with disinfectant wipes.


How often should you clean your phone?

According to Schaffner, the most likely way that your device would become contaminated with high levels of the virus is for someone to sneeze or cough near it.

Microscopic droplets containing the virus could then settle on the phone, he explained.

So, if you have been near anyone who is coughing or sneezing, it would be a good idea to clean your phone.

In addition, according to Westenberg, it would be a good idea to clean your phone “on a regular basis,” although not necessarily every time you touch it.

As far as the frequency, this will vary with your habits, said Westenberg.

“If you are being diligent about washing your hands, you would need to clean the screen less often, maybe once or twice a day.

“If you are putting your phone down on a potentially contaminated surface, washing your hands infrequently, et cetera, then I would recommend more often,” he said.

Schaffner said he thinks it’s important to stress, however, that unless you are in a home with someone who has SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, it’s relatively unlikely that your phone has any virus on it.

“I don’t think there’s any reason to clean your phone more than once a day,” he said, unless it’s potentially been exposed to the virus.

https://www.healthline.com

Written by Nancy Schimelpfening
March 18, 2020 — Fact checked by Jennifer Chesak

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10 things you need at home in case you or a family member gets COVID-19

— Recommendations are independently chosen by Reviewed’s editors. Purchases you make through our links may earn us a commission.

Despite taking the necessary precautions—social distancing, washing hands, wearing a mask in public—there’s still a risk that you or a family member could contract COVID-19. With coronavirus cases on the rise across the country and holiday travel coming up, it’s more important than ever to be prepared if someone you live with gets sick.

While the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that most people who contract COVID-19 will only have a mild case and can probably recover at home, there are necessary precautions to take to prevent the spread of the virus in your household. This includes having a designated sick room and bathroom as well as a designated person to care for those who are sick. It’s also necessary to disinfect surfaces regularly and for everyone to wash their hands frequently.

The CDC also recommends keeping those with an increased risk for severe illness separate, and if someone’s coronavirus symptoms worsen or they have trouble breathing to get them medical attention immediately.

Hopefully, no one in your household contracts the coronavirus, but it’s always best to prepare for the worst. Here are all the things you should have on hand if you or a family member gets COVID-19, as recommended by the CDC.

1. Hand soap

Washing your hands is one of the best ways to stop the spread of the coronavirus, according to the CDC, and should be done frequently. That means lathering up every time before eating or preparing food, after using the restroom, after leaving a public place, after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing, after handling your mask, and after caring for someone sick. So if you don’t have a good stock of hand soap, it might be good to get some more, just in case. The American Red Cross also recommends that you wash your hands for at least 20 seconds in order to effectively clean them.

2. Disinfecting wipes and spray

If someone in your household is sick, the CDC recommends cleaning and disinfecting surfaces as much as possible, especially if the infected person touched something. This includes frequently touched surfaces like tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets, and sinks. Cleaning wipes and spray are still hard to find, but are still essential for sanitation. While Lysol products were specifically approved by the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) for protecting against coronavirus, make sure you have something to disinfect your home with.3. Hand sanitizer

While washing your hands is the most effective thing for preventing the spread of COVID-19, if you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good second choice. Just be sure it contains at least 60% alcohol content, so you can properly sanitize your hards, according to the CDC. Earlier this year we saw a massive hand sanitizer shortage, so it might be a good idea to get a spare bottle now.

3. Hand sanitizer

While washing your hands is the most effective thing for preventing the spread of COVID-19, if you don’t have access to soap and water, hand sanitizer is a good second choice. Just be sure it contains at least 60% alcohol content, so you can properly sanitize your hards, according to the CDC. Earlier this year we saw a massive hand sanitizer shortage, so it might be a good idea to get a spare bottle now.

4. Thermometers

A fever is one of the first symptoms of COVID-19, according to the CDC, so you’re going to need a thermometer to monitor your family member’s illness and to see if anyone else contracted the virus. At the start of the pandemic, thermometers were incredibly difficult to find online and in-stores. While there are plenty of thermometers in stock right now, it’s a good idea to get one now if you don’t already have one, just in case.

6. Tissues

Although the major symptoms of coronavirus include a dry cough, fever, and shortness of breath, according to the CDC, it’s always a good idea to have an extra box of tissues lying around to cover any sneezes or coughs. You can also use tissues as a barrier between you and surfaces that could have the coronavirus like doorknobs. After testing nine different boxes (and blowing many noses), we found that Puffs Ultra Soft tissues are the best tissues and won’t irritate your nose. Be sure to have an extra box lying around.

7. Face masks

While most people don’t wear face masks in the comfort of their own home, if someone in your household has COVID-19, they’re essential. Not only do face masks help prevent the spread of the coronavirus, but they also protect the wearer from the virus, according to the CDC. You should wear one when in close contact with an infected family member.

After testing a variety of face masks for comfort and protection, our experts found that the Athleta Non Medical Face Masks to be the best. Each one is triple-layered and comes with an adjustable nose piece and ear loops, and we found them to be comfortable and breathable, too. For a more affordable option, the Old Navy Triple-Layer Cloth Face Mask is our best value pick and only cost $12.50 for a pack of five.

You also might consider using disposable masks if someone in your family has the coronavirus. That way they can toss them out after each use. This 50 pack of disposable face masks from Bigox on Amazon has a 4.5-star rating from over 11,000 reviews and is a great option.

8. Disposable gloves

The CDC recommends wearing disposable gloves when disinfecting surfaces, handling items that could have come in contact with the coronavirus like trash bags and tissues, and caring for someone who is sick. Gloves should be immediately discarded after use and you should wash your hands after removing them. The Venom Steel Rip Resistant Industrial Gloves that we rated to be the best on the market for comfort and durability when testing disposable gloves, but there are other great options to use as well.

9. Humidifiers and air purifiers

According to the CDC, humidifiers can help ease some of the symptoms of the coronavirus like cough and sore throat. So it might be helpful to have one if a family member is recovering from the virus. The Vicks Warm Mist Humidifier is the best humidifier we’ve ever tested. It can run for about 10 hours on the medium setting, and it was able to bring our testing chamber to 80 percent relative humidity. Plus, it comes with a medicine exhaust for some extra relief.

Air purifiers could help prevent other family members from contracting COVID-19, especially if your space isn’t well-ventilated, by filtering out airborne pathogens. Though it’s not guaranteed to prevent exposure to the virus, it can help reduce airborne transmissions when used with other sanitation best practices like hand washing and disinfecting. The Winix 5500-2 is the best air purifier we’ve ever tested, as its filers are easy to change and it has the capacity to filter out 99.97% of pathogens as small as 0.3 microns.

10. Pulse oximeters

To help monitor your family member who has COVID-19, you might want to consider getting a pulse oximeter. These medical devices attach to the finger to measure oxygen saturation in the blood, which experts believe can be a gauge for reduced lung capacity, a common symptom of the coronavirus. Oxygen saturation below 90 percent is considered hypoxic, according to the Mayo Clinic, meaning there is a lower level of oxygen than is needed in the blood and could be a sign to take your loved one for medical attention. Though it’s not necessary for everyone, it could help give you peace of mind.

By Courtney Campbell
Published at:
https://eu.usatoday.com


Men wash their hands much less often than women and that matters more than ever

(CNN)Handwashing with soap and warm water for 20 seconds — along with staying home and standing six feet apart from others — is the best weapon we have against the novel coronavirus that has infected almost 800,000 people around the world.
However, there’s one big yet little discussed difference when it comes to this essential personal hygiene habit: Women are hands down better handwashers than men.

Years of surveys, observations and research have found that women are more likely to wash their hands, use soap and scrub for a longer period of time than men after using the restroom. However, there’s still a surprisingly large portion of both sexes who don’t wash their hands at all.

People lie about washing their hands
Researchers have had to come up with clever ways to collect this data, since most people will tell you that they think handwashing after using the bathroom is important. That’s even if they don’t actually do it.

Carl Borchgrevink, director of the School of Hospitality at Michigan State University in East Lansing, takes this kind of survey data with a pinch of salt.

Coronavirus symptoms: A list and when to seek help
“If you’re at a restroom at an airport, for example, and when you come out someone [asks] you ‘Did you wash your hands?’ And what are you going to say? Yes, of course,” said Borchgrevink.
When researchers only ask about people’s handwashing habits, “we found that the data that people were reporting seemed to be too high,” he said.

To dig deeper into what people really do after using the bathroom, Borchgrevink tasked 12 research assistants at Michigan State University with the job of surreptitiously hanging out in four different restrooms on and off campus to record what 3,749 men and women actually did. The results of the 2013 study were shocking to the researchers.

Few people wash their hands correctly
Some 15% of men didn’t wash their hands at all, compared with 7% of women. When they did wash their hands, only 50% of men used soap, compared with 78% of women.
Overall, only 5% of people who used the bathroom washed their hands long enough to kill the germs that can cause infections.
A bigger study published in 2009 that used more high tech methods at a busy highway rest stop in the UK was equally, if not more, damning.
With the use of wireless devices to record how many people entered the restroom and used the pumps of the soap dispensers, researchers were able to collect data on almost 200,000 restroom trips over a three-month period.
The found that only 31% of men and 65% of women washed their hands with soap.

Stress eating these days? Here’s some help
It’s a big gap — clearly twice as many women as men were washing their hands,” said Susan Michie, health psychology professor and director of the Centre for Behaviour Change at the Department of Clinical, Educational and Health Psychology at University College London.
“Another interesting result was that the more people were in the toilet area the more they were likely to wash their hands,” said Michie, who was an author of the study. “If there were no people around, people tended to zap out with no one noticing.”
There’s little to suggest that men in the UK and US are unsual in their handwashing (or lack thereof).
A review published on the subject in 2016 looked at research from dozens of different countries, and found that women were 50% more likely than men to practice, or increase, protective behavior like proper hand-washing, mask-wearing and surface cleaning in the context of an epidemic, like flu.

Why is there a gender gap?
There’s been far less research done on why there is such a gap between the sexes when it comes to hand-washing. Michie said it was likely socially programmed behavior, not genetic.
“Women are more focused on care than men — childcare, household care, personal care,” she said.

Why soap, sanitizer and warm water work against Covid-19 and other viruses
Similarly, Borchgrevink said that while his study didn’t look at why men didn’t wash their hands as much as women, he suggested that it could be down to a sense that men were too macho to fear germs.
“We did talk to some of (the men) and ask, ‘why didn’t wash your hands?'” Borchgrevink said. “And they would look at us indignantly and say, ‘I’m clean, I don’t need to wash my hands.’ They had a sense of invincibility.”
Nancy Tomes, a history professor at Stony Brook University and the author of “The Gospel of Germs: Men, Women and the Microbe in American Life,” says the hand-washing gender gap has a long history dating back to when the germ theory of disease took hold in the public consciousness in the Victorian era — that certain diseases were caused by microorganisms that invaded the body rather than bad air or miasma.

An unidentified Red Cross nurse teaches a class on home hygiene and care for the sick to a group of women of various ages, 1920.
“This changed the definition of cleanliness,” she said, and women especially were told their family’s health depended on the highest level of hygiene.
“Of course, there had been definitions of what was clean and unclean before the germ theory came along, but it injected a level of specificity and also upped the ante. If you made a mistake in your cleanliness, you could die, your family could die.
“And that message of, ‘make a mistake and your kid will die’ resonates like a megaphone in the lives of mothers (even today),” Tomes said.

Motivating men to wash their hands
Michie’s research at the highway rest stop in the UK looked at what kind of public health messaging would improve handwashing rates by using a sign that illuminated with different messages as people entered the restroom.
While the findings weren’t conclusive, the study suggested that men and women responded to different types of messaging around handwashing. Messages that triggered disgust (“Soap it off or eat it later”) resonated with men, while women were more motivated to wash by messages that activated knowledge, such as “Water doesn’t kill germs, soap does.”
Michie said she wasn’t aware of any public health campaigns that had focused their efforts on men in light of their handwashing lapses, but said this was the perfect moment to try.
“It’s an excellent idea to target men. It could be really helpful. If women knew men weren’t doing it, they’d get on to them.”

Published by Katie Hunt, CNN
Updated 1 April 2020
https://edition.cnn.com

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How long can Covid-19 virus survive on human skin? Proper hand hygiene is the key, say researchers

Coronavirus update: The 9-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV, thus accelerating the pandemic.

Coronavirus update: Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) that has caused the Covid-19 pandemic, can survive as many as nine hours on human skin, according to researchers in Japan. The study which has been published in ‘Clinical Infectious Diseases’ journal has underlined that “Proper hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread” of Coronavirus, as per a Reuters report.

“The stability of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) on human skin remains unknown, considering the hazards of viral exposure to humans. We generated a model that allows the safe reproduction of clinical studies on the application of pathogens to human skin and elucidated the stability of SARS-CoV-2 on the human skin,” the study titled as “Survival of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza virus on the human skin: Importance of hand hygiene in COVID-19” stated.

Researchers evaluated the stability of SARS-CoV-2 and influenza A virus (IAV), mixed with culture medium or upper respiratory mucus, on human skin surfaces, and the dermal disinfection effectiveness of 80 per cent (w/w) ethanol against SARS-CoV-2 and IAV. To avoid possibly infecting healthy volunteers, researchers conducted lab experiments using cadaver skin that would otherwise have been used for skin grafts. While the influenza A virus survived less than two hours on human skin, the novel coronavirus survived for more than nine hours. Both were completely inactivated within 15 seconds by hand sanitizer containing 80 per cent alcohol.

The 9-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV, thus accelerating the pandemic. Proper hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of Coronavirus infections, the study says in its ‘Conclusion’ part.

Meanwhile, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends using alcohol-based hand rubs with 60 per cent to 95 per cent alcohol or thoroughly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, as per the Reuters report.

By: Debjit Sinha | New Delhi
Updated: Oct 06, 2020 12:25 PM
Published at: https://www.financialexpress.com

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Which Works Best Against Covid-19: Clean Hands Or Face Masks?

To stop the spread of Coronavirus, the public needs to carry out several physical interventions at the same time. And while the media focuses on the culture war over wearing face masks, we must not forget another intervention that science suggests may be even more important than a mask: clean hands.

Hand hygiene is central to stopping Covid-19 from spreading by contact transmission, which occurs via routes such as touching a contaminated surface and then your face. Since around 1850, when microbiologists began developing the modern germ theory of disease and doctors started washing their hands, we’ve know that practicing proper hygiene helps prevent microbes from transmitting infectious diseases from one person to another.

But while there’s plenty of research on how good hygiene blocks the spread of respiratory viruses generally, there’s relatively little knowledge of how well it works against the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus specifically.

As a consequence, recommendations from authorities like the World Health Organization and Centres for Disease Control are mainly based on extrapolating from other viruses with a similar structure, especially a fatty envelope that surrounds certain viruses. That envelope is studded with the proteins used to break into cells, and the logic goes that if an intervention is effective against another ‘enveloped virus’ — influenza, say — then the same should apply to novel coronaviruses.

There are hundreds of studies on interventions that might interrupt or reduce the spread of respiratory viruses, but their results sometimes contradict each other. And when there’s no agreement, scientists will perform a systematic review and collect all the available research in order to analyse the quality of work then reach a consensus. That’s what was done in the 2010 Cochrane review, led by the Centre for Evidence Based Medicine at Oxford University. Based on 67 studies, the reviewers found that hand hygiene helps stop the spread of viruses, particularly around young children — probably because kids are less hygienic.

The 2010 review wasn’t conclusive, however, as it didn’t identify enough studies that compared the intervention with a control. Such experiments allow reviewers to perform a ‘meta-analysis’ that combines data from multiple trials then offer a conclusion. An as-yet unpublished update to the Cochrane review achieved just that, combining 15 trials involving both adults and children. Those trials weren’t carried out in a lab, but took place in homes, offices and classrooms — real-world settings where infections are commonly transmitted.

According to the new review, hand hygiene led to a 16% drop in the number of participants with an acute respiratory illness (ARI) and 36% relative reduction in an associated outcome: people being absent from work or school. The reviewers concluded that “the modest evidence for reducing the burden of ARIs, and related absenteeism, justifies reinforcing the standard recommendation for hand hygiene measures to reduce the spread of respiratory viruses.”

Although the 2020 review confirms the intervention’s efficacy in limiting viral transmission, it’s not specific to Coronavirus. A direct link to SARS-CoV-2 is supported by one study from a Covid-19 hospital in Wuhan, China, however: from a statistical analysis of several risk factors associated with transmitting the virus, researchers found that poor hand hygiene was a major factor, raising the relative risk of infection by around 3%.

The Chinese study also revealed that the higher Covid-19 risk remained even when healthcare workers wore full personal protective equipment (PPE), which suggests that hand hygiene is more important than wearing a face mask. The 2020 review also didn’t find much added benefit to wearing a mask along with good hygiene.

Anti-maskers might interpret such findings to mean that masks are worthless, but that would be wrong because the variation in results among studies was too large to draw any strong conclusions. Masks probably do help block viral transmission, but we won’t know exactly how effective they are until we have more data.

Employing only a single intervention — such as masks or handwashing — allows an infectious disease to spread because not everyone will follow the recommended guidelines and so infected people slip through the ‘holes’ in that intervention. When multiple interventions are used simultaneously, however, it’s like stacking several slices of Swiss cheese: the more slices you add, the less likely it is that two holes will overlap and let the disease pass every intervention.

While this ‘Swiss cheese model’ has traditionally been used in medical error reduction, it’s relevant to reducing Covid-19 transmission. Regardless of the relative importance of various interventions, we should employ several strategies to stop the spread of Coronavirus.

By JV Chamary
Published


COVID-19 Hand Hygiene and Dry Skin: 3 Tips for Reducing the Risk of Dry and Cracked Hands

We have been regularly washing our hands for over 20 seconds (while humming the “Happy Birthday” song!) for months now. When there are no handwashing facilities, we have been rubbing our hands with dollops of alcohol-based hand sanitizers to keep them virus-free.

A rather unpleasant complexity of these regular vigorous hand washing and sanitizing is that they tend to make our hands excessively dry and irritated. This is due to the high percentages of alcohol in hand sanitizers and the soaps stripping off the natural oils in our skin. Dry skin in hands should not be ignored since it can lead to irritations and breakage of skin.

This should not mean you should cut back on hand hygiene! One of the easiest ways to prevent dry hands is to use a moisturizer or a hand sanitizer with moisturizing agents. Puracy’s Alcohol-Based Gel Hand Sanitizer keeps your hands germ-free, and its gel consistency with moisturizing agents help keep your skin well hydrated and smooth, preventing dry and cracked hands.
Get Your Puracy’s Citrus and Sea Salt Gel Hand Sanitizer Here!

Important: Even if your hands feel dry, it’s extremely important to keep washing your hands regularly to protect yourself and others against COVID-19. You can regain the skin’s moisture barrier by following the tips below.

1. Use Lukewarm Water To Wash Hands

Washing your hands with lukewarm water is more effective in two ways. The heat helps easily break down any oils and dirt along with any infected respiratory droplets that you may have touched. Lukewarm water helps properly break down the soap for its maximum efficacy, and wash off completely without leaving any traces that can cause dry skin.

2. Use an Occlusive Moisturizer Immediately After Washing Hands

Occlusive agents in moisturizers such as waxes, oils, silicones, and petrolatum increase the overall moisture of your skin by providing a physical barrier to your epidermal water loss. Once you finish washing your hands, pat them dry, and immediately use an occlusive moisturizer to lock in the moisture. Keep a bottle of moisturizer in your bag and nearby your regular sink to help you remember to moisturize each time you wash your hands.

3. Use a Fragrance-Free, Moisturizing Hand Sanitizer

While a whiff of fragrance may be pleasant when you use your hand sanitizer, the aromatic chemicals used to create a fragrance in sanitizing products can further dry and irritate your skin. Especially since you are using sanitizer regularly these days, even the smallest amounts of added chemicals can cause damage eventually.

CDC recommends using hand sanitizers with 60-95% alcohol. While this ensures maximum protection for you, it can also be quite drying. Therefore, look for a hydrating or moisturizing component in your hand sanitizer to reduce dryness. ArtNaturals scent-free hand sanitizer comes with 62.5% alcohol content, and it’s infused with botanical extracts including aloe, jojoba and vitamin E to nourish and protect your skin from damage.

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Water & Sanitation This WHO-UNICEF Initiative Is Fighting so Everyone Can Wash Their Hands Against COVID-19

Nearly half of the world population can’t wash their hands at home.

Why Global Citizens Should Care

COVID-19 has been called an equaliser, because it doesn’t discriminate based on race, gender, geography, sexuality or religion. Yet, in the months since the World Health Organisation declared coronavirus a pandemic, it’s become increasingly evident that people from marginalised communities and poor countries bear the brunt of the virus due to lack of access to resources, like water and sanitation. You can join us here to take actions to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable communities.

It’s often been said that changing personal behaviour is vital in containing COVID-19: wearing a mask in public, maintaining social distance, and frequently washing hands with soap and clean water.

Yet for 3 billion people globally, access to hygiene is not as simple as turning on a tap, according to the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF).

That’s 40% of the world population who cannot wash their hands with soap and water in their homes.

The majority are in sub-Saharan Africa, while children and people who live in informal settlements, refugee camps, or conflict areas are most affected by the continent’s lack of clean water and sanitation facilities.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF have recently launched a hand-washing initiative aimed at bringing attention to the plight of people who don’t have access to clean water and are, therefore, unable to protect themselves effectively from COVID-19.

“Hand hygiene has never been more critical, not only to combat COVID-19, but to prevent a range of other infections. Yet, nearly six months since the onset of the pandemic, the most vulnerable communities around the world continue to lack access to basic hand hygiene,” said the executive directors of UNICEF and WHO, Henrietta Fore and Dr. Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, in a joint statement.

The statement added: “According to our [UNICEF and WHO] latest data, the majority of people in the least developed countries are at immediate risk of COVID-19 infection due to a lack of hand hygiene facilities.”

The statement said one billion people are at direct risk of contracting COVID-19 as a result of not having water and soap in their homes, and that almost half of then are children.

However, it’s not only homes that lack access to clean water, the statement added. “All too often, schools, clinics, hospitals and other public spaces also lack hand hygiene facilities, putting children, teachers, patients and health workers at risk. Globally, two in five in health care facilities do not have hand hygiene at points of care,” said the statement.

A report by World Vision revealed that nine out of 10 countries in the world with the worst access to water are African.

These include: Eritrea, where 81% of the population do not have clean drinking water. In Uganda, 61% of the population doesn’t have basic water services. The figures are 61% in Ethiopia, 60% in Somalia, 59% in Angola, 58% in the Democratic Republic of the Congo, 58% in Chad, 54% in Niger, and 53% in Mozambique.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an uncomfortable truth: too many people around the world simply cannot clean their hands,” said the statement.

UNICEF and WHO said they will be working through the initiative with other international partners, national governments, the public and private sectors, and community organisations to ensure that products and services are available and affordable, and to enable a culture of hygiene. This includes ensuring that handwashing stations are accessible, especially in disadvantaged areas and among marginalised communities.

“We must also ramp up investment in hygiene, water and sanitation, and in infection prevention and control,” said the statement. “We urge countries to scale up, systemise, and institutionalise hand hygiene and commit to strengthening the enabling environment, supply vital products and services, and to actively promote hygiene practices as part of a package of actions that save lives.”

You can join us to help mitigate the impact of COVID-19 on the world’s most vulnerable and marginalised communities by taking action here.

By Lerato Mogoatlhe
Published July 2, 2020
https://www.globalcitizen.org


Controlling COVID-19: hand hygiene must be accessible to all

UNICEF and the World Health Organization have launched the ‘Hand Hygiene for All’ joint initiative to help control the spread of COVID-19.

In a bid to control the spread of the novel COVID-19 infection the United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF) and the World Health Organization have launched a new join initiative ‘Hand Hygiene for All’ to help make hand hygiene accessible to all, including the least developed countries that have a lack of hygiene facilities.

Hand Hygiene for All

Henrietta Fore, Executive Director of UNICEF, and Dr Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, Director-General of the World Health Organization, made a statement on the launch of the initiative. “As the world struggles to cope with a new disease, one of the most effective tools to prevent its spread is also one of the most basic. Hand hygiene has never been more critical, not only to combat COVID-19, but to prevent a range of other infections. Yet, nearly six months since the onset of the pandemic, the most vulnerable communities around the world continue to lack access to basic hand hygiene.

“According to our latest data, the majority of people in the least developed countries are at immediate risk of COVID-19 infection due to a lack of hand hygiene facilities. In the 60 highest-risk countries, two out of three people – 1 billion people in total – lack basic handwashing facilities with soap and water at home. Around half are children.

“All too often, schools, clinics, hospitals and other public spaces also lack hand hygiene facilities, putting children, teachers, patients and health workers at risk. Globally, two in five healthcare facilities do not have hand hygiene at points of care. We cannot overstate the threat.

“Many of the those who lack access to basic handwashing live in overcrowded, desperately poor conditions. Even before the pandemic, children and families faced barriers to accessing health and hygiene services. Now the grave risk of COVID-19 threatens further suffering and spread of this deadly disease.

“If we are going to control COVID-19, we have to make hand hygiene accessible to all. That is why we are launching a new global initiative to move the world towards the same goal: supporting the most vulnerable communities with the means to protect their health and environment.

“We are joining our efforts with those of other international partners, national governments, public and private sectors, and civil society organisations to ensure affordable products and services are available, especially in disadvantaged areas, and to enable a culture of hygiene.

“Public health response plans and reopening plans should couple physical distancing and other control measures with hand hygiene and access to safe water and sanitation, and must reach the most vulnerable communities.

“Our teams are developing comprehensive country roadmaps and committing human and financial resources to support global and local implementation efforts. Task teams will facilitate learning and knowledge exchange, while multisector stakeholders will strengthen hygiene programming and monitor global progress. Leaders and community mobilisers will advise on strategies and advocate for their implementation. Only together can we achieve universal hand hygiene.

“We must also ramp up investment in hygiene, water and sanitation, and in infection prevention and control. We urge countries to scale up, systemise and institutionalise hand hygiene and commit to strengthening the enabling environment, supply vital products and services, and to actively promote hygiene practices as part of a package of actions that save lives.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has exposed an uncomfortable truth: too many people around the world simply cannot clean their hands. But we can help to reduce the spread, and we can prevent future infectious diseases from following a similar path. It starts by making sure everyone, everywhere has access to basic hand hygiene facilities with soap and clean water or alcohol-based products in homes, schools and healthcare facilities.”

 

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