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

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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.

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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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Spain issues warning as child hand sanitizer poisoning cases spike

The number of children treated in Spain for accidental poisonings after ingesting hand sanitising gels has soared during the pandemic, the government said Wednesday, urging parents to keep the products out of reach.

There have been 874 reported cases of intoxications from hand sanitising gels so far this year, compared to just 90 during all of 2019, the National Toxicological and Forensic Sciences Institute, a unit of the justice ministry, said in a statement.
Two-thirds of the cases involved children, especially those under the age of two. The vast majority swallowed the hand-sanitiser although some became intoxicated after getting the product in their eyes or inhaling it.
No fatalities have been reported and over 80 percent the poisoning victims recovered “in a short time”, the institute said.

The most common symptoms were, vomiting, diarrhoea, coughing, blurred vision and red eyes.
In a video message posted on Twitter, Justice Minister Juan Carlos Campo called the Zgures “alarming” and urged parents to “keep hand-sanitising gels out of reach of children and insist that its use to disinfect hands always be supervised by an adult”.

Como ministro de Justicia, pero también como padre, me preocupan los datos de intoxicaciones por gel hidroalcohólico en niños que ha difundido hoy el @INTCFjusticia. Mantengamos estos productos fuera del alcance de los más pequeños. Protejámonos, protejámosles.
pic.twitter.com/F5QGPKvX2T
— Juan Carlos Campo (@Jccampm) October 14, 2020

As in other European countries, used of hand-sanitising gels has soared in Spain to curb the spread of Covid-19.
The country has become of the pandemic’s hotspots in the European Union, with close to 910,000 registered cases and over 33,000 deaths.

Published at: The Local 15 October 2020
news@thelocal.es @thelocalspain

https://www.thelocal.es/20201015/child-hand-sanitiser-poisoning-cases-spike-in-spain


6 Common Viruses and How You Can Avoid Spreading Them Plus, find out how long you could be contagious with each one

With cold and flu season fast approaching, there’s no doubt that you’ll be extra thorough in your efforts to protect yourself from germs and viruses this year. Before COVID-19, did you ever think about how long you could be contagious after catching a cold or having bronchitis, strep throat or the flu? If not, the answers just might surprise you.

As you’re being extra cautious to avoid catching or spreading the coronavirus, keep these helpful guidelines from family medicine physician Matthew J. Goldman, MD in mind so you don’t pass the following common illnesses on to others.

Are you contagious or not?

Common Cold

When are you probably the most contagious? Within the first 48-72 hours.

How long could you be contagious with a cold? Up to 2 weeks.

How does a common cold spread? Hand contact or droplets in the air.

How do you avoid infecting others? Cough/sneeze into your elbow and not your hands.
Stay home until symptoms improve and your fever resolves.

Hand hygiene: Clean your hands often with soap and water/alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Flu

When are you probably the most contagious? Within the first 48 hours.

How long could you be contagious with the flu? Up to 10 days.

How does the flu spread? Coughing/sneezing (sends large amounts of flu virus into air).

How do you avoid infecting others? Stay on top of hand hygiene.
Cough or sneeze into your elbow and not your hands.
Stay home until symptoms improve and fever resolves.

Hand hygiene: Clean your hands often with soap and water/alcohol-based hand sanitizers.

Sore Throat/Strep

When are you probably the most contagious? Within the first 48-72 hours.

How long could you be contagious with a sore throat or strep? Three to four weeks if left untreated. You could be contagious with strep 24 to 48 hours after you start antibiotics.

How does a sore throat or strep spread? Saliva or nasal mucus/discharge (especially strep).

How do you avoid infecting others?
Avoid close contact with others.
Don’t share utensils or drinks.

Extra hand hygiene: Wash your hands with plain soap and water for 20-30 seconds; scrub your nails, wrists and between your fingers. Rinse thoroughly.

Bronchitis

When are you probably the most contagious? Within the first 48-72 hours.

How long could you be contagious with bronchitis? Up to 3 weeks.

How does bronchitis spread? Through droplets in the air and contaminated surfaces.

How can you avoid infecting others?
Be sure to step up your hand hygiene.
Promptly discard used tissue and wash your hands.
Get tested for the flu.

Extra hand hygiene: Wash your hands with plain soap and water for 20 to 30 seconds; scrub your nails, wrists and between your fingers. Rinse your hands thoroughly.

Pneumonia

When are you probably the most contagious? Within the first 48-72 hours.

How long could you be contagious with pneumonia? Up to three weeks.

How does pneumonia spread? Coughing or sneezing (you can infect anyone within 6 feet).

How can you avoid infecting others?
Extra hand hygiene.
Wash your hands before making meals.
Promptly discard used tissue and wash your hands.
Environmental cleaning.

Environmental cleaning: Frequently disinfect surfaces where infected droplets can collect.

Stomach Virus

When are you probably the most contagious? Within the first 24-48 hours.

How long could you be contagious with a stomach virus? It varies. Wait 48-72 hours after your symptoms resolve to return to school or work.

How does a stomach virus spread? Sharing food or utensils, contaminated surfaces or close contact.

How can you avoid infecting others?
Extra hand hygiene.
Environmental cleaning.
Avoid close contact with others.

Environmental cleaning: Frequently disinfect surfaces where infected droplets can collect.

Publihed September 3, 2020
By Clevelandclinic
https://health.clevelandclinic.org

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Essential hand hygiene a must when handling food products

Currently, there is no evidence that Covid-19 can be transmitted by food or food packaging.

However, it is always important to follow good hygiene practices when handling or preparing foods. You should always wash your hands and surfaces often, separate raw meat from other foods, cook to the right temperature, and put food in the fridge as soon as you can.

Food shopping advice

• Don’t go shopping if you have COVID-19 symptoms. You can order your groceries online, or have family or friends drop them off instead.

• When you go food shopping, you should wash your hands before you leave the house, avoid touching your face when you are out, and follow social distancing.

• When you return home, you should wash your hands straight away. Wash them again once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.

• It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.

• If you are sanitising surfaces or shopping bags, follow the manufacturer’s instructions about how much time is needed before wiping the sanitiser off.

• Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

Frequently asked questions

When I bring my grocery shopping into my home, could it be contaminated with the Coronavirus? What do I have to do to make sure it is safe?

While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way. However, you should always put away your shopping as soon as you get home, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer.

If I deliver food to a relative in isolation, what do I have to do it make sure it is safe?

Firstly, if you show any symptoms, you should not offer to deliver food. If you can, follow the food shopping advice above, and it might be best to leave the shopping at the door.

I have heard that sanitisers can only be used three or four times and then hands must be washed properly in hot soapy water. Is that true?

Thoroughly washing your hands with soap and water is best, but hand sanitisers are a good option when you don’t have access to soap and water, such as when you are out and about.

Can I wash my hands with cold water and soap? Is that adequate?

The temperature of the water is not that significant. The most important thing is that you wash with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, and dry your hands thoroughly afterwards.

I am cocooning and I am worried about the safety of the food being left at my doorstep.

Always put away food as soon as you can, especially perishable foods which must be stored in the fridge or freezer. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way. However you should wash your hands once you have unpacked and put away your shopping.

Should I wipe down/clean all food packaging coming into my house?

It is not necessary to sanitise the outside of food packaging. While there is some evidence that the virus can survive on hard surfaces, the risk from handling food packing is very low and there is no evidence that the illness can be transmitted in this way.

You should follow the food shopping advice above and wash your hands before and after you go food shopping, and after you unpack your shopping.

Should I wear gloves when handling food packaging when unpacking it from a shop?

Gloves would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands often and avoid touching your face.

When out food shopping, should I wear gloves and wipe down the basket/trolley I am using?

Gloves can give a false sense of security. They would need to be changed very frequently to be effective. It is better to wash your hands, or use hand sanitiser, and avoid touching your face.

Many shops are providing sanitiser to wipe trolley handles, as this is a high contact surface.

Published by Galway Puublisher
Thursdag 09-04-2020
https://www.advertiser.ie/galway

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New hand washing stations to help fight hygiene-related diseases

The Ministry of Health in partnership with World Vision among other stakeholders have inaugurated 49 modern hand washing facilities set up at different health facilities across the country, which are expected to help prevent Covid-19 and hygiene-related diseases.

The event took place at Masaka Hospital in Kicukiro district on Tuesday, September 1.

According to the ministry, the entire project will involve the establishment of modern hand washing stations in about 300 health facilities across the country.

Speaking at the occasion, the Minister of Health Dr. Daniel Ngamije said that the facilities will help prevent the Covid-19 pandemic and other hygiene-related diseases.

“We thank this partnership with World Vision and other partners who worked hard to avail these facilities. This move comes as an addition effort to the already existing measures to combat the Covid-19 pandemic and other hygiene-related diseases,” he said.

Among primary preventive measures against Covid-19 include regular washing of hands with clean water and soap.

Ngamije also urged people in charge of health facilities where the washing stations have been set up to take care of the established infrastructure and ensure they are always functional.

Sean Kerrigan, National Director of World Vision Rwanda also noted that the Organization is delighted to help the country in the fight against Covid-19.

He said: “We are glad to play a role in the fight against hygiene-related diseases, most especially Covid-19. We know that it is a joint responsibility for us and the government to keep both young children and adults safe. Together we shall win.”

The entire project of setting up these infrastructures, according to World Vision, has cost Rwf290 million.

By Lavie Mutanganshuro
Published 01 September 2020
https://www.newtimes.co.rw/


Frequent Hand-Washing Tough on Those With Eczema

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and other viruses, but for people with skin conditions like eczema, lathering up frequently can lead to dryness, cracking, itchiness, pain and even an infection.

If you’re struggling to balance pandemic hand-washing and skin conditions, Dr. Jonathan Silverberg, a dermatologist at George Washington University School of Medicine in Washington, D.C., offers some advice.

Regular washing is better than hand sanitizer: When you cleanse with soap and water, then immediately apply moisturizer, you can “offset much of the drying effects of hand-washing,” Silverberg said in a news release from the Asthma and Allergy Foundation of America. He recommends carrying a pocket tube of moisturizer so you can apply it on the go.

Avoid antiseptic and antibacterial soaps: You may not need them, as long as you scrub thoroughly with soap for at least 20 seconds and then rinse.

Moisturize properly: After washing, pat your hands until they are mostly dry, using a paper towel or tissue. “Once mostly dry, [i.e., your skin is still a little damp] apply a generous amount of moisturizer to coat the entire surface of your hands and fingers,” Silverberg said.

Beware of gloves plus sanitizer: To avoid irritation from hand-washing, some people with skin conditions wear disposable gloves and then use sanitizer on them — an approach Silverberg does not recommend. “When we apply hand sanitizer on our bare skin, we can feel if we covered the entire surface of the hands and fingers,” he said. “But when wearing gloves, we limit the ability to feel this and might miss some spots on the gloves and then accidentally carry some germs.” It makes more sense to change gloves and/or wash or sanitize hands often, Silverberg said.

Wear gloves when cleaning: Cleaning products are especially harsh on the skin. “People should always wear gloves when using antiseptic wipes and cleaning products,” Silverberg said.

Sterilize containers: If you carry bottles of soap and moisturizer with you, clean and sterilize the containers to remove harmful germs. And remember: Moisturizer should not be applied unless hands are clean, to prevent contaminating the product.
There’s more about hand hygiene at the National Eczema Association.

By Serena McNiff, HealthDay Reporter
Aug. 21, 2020
Copyright © 2020 HealthDay. All rights reserved.


More than 800 million students worldwide lack hand washing amenities

More than 40 per cent of students worldwide – around 818 million – lack access to basic hand-washing facilities in the classroom.

But hand hygiene provision is a key requirement for the safe reopening of schools, claim the World Health Organisation (WHO) and UNICEF.

According to UN data there are currently 1.6 billion students worldwide in 190 countries, 43 per cent of whom lack access to soap or water or both. A third of these pupils live in sub-Saharan Africa and in the least developed countries, seven out of 10 schools lack basic hand-washing facilities.

The World Health Organisation and UNICEF have teamed up to issue a report setting out guidelines for the safe reopening of schools this autumn.

“Access to water, sanitation and hygiene services are essential for effective infection prevention and control in all settings, including schools,” said WHO general manager Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus. “It must be a major focus of government strategies for the safe reopening and operation of schools during the ongoing COVID-19 global pandemic.”

The report encourages governments to balance any public health measures against the social and economic impacts of student lockdowns. And it cites substantial evidence of the negative impacts of prolonged school closures on children.

“Global school closures since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic have presented an unprecedented challenge to children’s education and well-being,” said UNICEF executive director Henrietta Fore. “We must prioritise children’s learning and ensure that schools are safe to reopen – with access to hand hygiene, clean drinking water and safe sanitation.”

Published 24th of August 2020
http://www.europeancleaningjournal.com


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
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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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By Newsweek AMPLIFY

https://www.newsweek.com