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


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


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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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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Handwashing: Is a New Normal Possible?

Professional development educators and infection control specialists need to design educational programs that create a lasting behavior change when it comes to hand hygiene.

Can something as simple as handwashing prevent the spread of coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19)? Today, handwashing is as important as ever. Prevention becomes essential to stopping the spread of the virus because there is no vaccine to prevent it and no treatment for anyone experiencing the illness.

Mitigation is the only tool we have at our disposal to fight this novel virus. Science has consistently proven that handwashing is the only way to prevent viral and bacterial diseases. Healthcare providers know that hand hygiene protocols reduce the rates of healthcare-associated infections (HAIs), yet providers continue to miss opportunities to perform hand hygiene. COVID-19 will have a lasting impact on hand-hygiene practices if we reevaluate what outcome we want to achieve with the provision of education on hand hygiene.

Coronavirus is spread by droplets. So anytime we talk or sneeze or cough, there are droplets that come from our mouth and nose. The virus is on our face, hands from covering our sneeze by habit, or even with the use of tissues. The virus can land on surfaces. If a contaminated surface is touched then one is at risk for contracting the virus via hand contact with their face, nose, eyes, and mouth. During the COVID-19 pandemic, handwashing becomes even more important. How can healthcare providers serve as credible educators for the general population, on the critical issue of hand hygiene, when healthcare providers are not consistently practicing hand hygiene? How can we prevent the transmission of disease when we neglect to provide patients with an opportunity to properly wash their hands?

Healthcare workers now have an increased need to wash hands. Hand hygiene should be completed prior to donning and after doffing personal protective equipment. Healthcare providers are also wearing masks for the duration of their shift in healthcare facilities. Hand hygiene should be performed after adjusting their mask as well.

Healthcare workers have many reasons for not performing hand hygiene. Edmonds, et al includes some of the following reasons for not washing hands: inconvenience, I forgot, I was wearing gloves, lack of education, hands full, skin breakdown, frequent entry into room, and hand hygiene products have a strange odor or leave a film on hands.1 The reasons for lack of hand hygiene are only important if we use the noncompliance reasons to improve systems such as: promoting hand hygiene, trialing new products, or changing behaviors of healthcare providers.

What can professional development educators and infection control specialists do to encourage hand hygiene? We need to consider what outcome we would like to achieve with hand hygiene compliance.

Have professional development educators and infection control specialists consider the objective of hand hygiene education. Is the objective of hand hygiene education to increase the compliance rates of hand hygiene or is the objective of hand hygiene to prevent the transmission of disease?

If the objective of hand hygiene is to prevent the transmission of disease, then our educational content needs to be redesigned. We need to transform our education programs and campaigns. Education needs to include content related to how easily germs are spread and transmitted in the hospital environment, how healthcare employees contaminate the environment, how the environment is contaminated with social media devices, how staff contaminate themselves, how patients can contaminate their environment.

We need to create educational programs for patients, families, and visitors, as well as staff. Education can no longer be “wash in and wash out.” Professional development educators and infection control specialists need to design educational programs that create a lasting behavior change in all constituents.

The only education that should remain consistent is the procedure for washing hands. The procedure2 for handwashing, according to the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), should be adopted in all healthcare facilities. The procedure is:

Wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold), turn off the water, and apply soap.

Lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather the backs of your hands, between your fingers, and under your nails.

Scrub your hands for at least 20 seconds. Twenty seconds can be measured by Singing the song “Happy Birthday” or the “ABCs” song from beginning to end twice.

Rinse your hands well under clean, running water.

Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.

Now is the time to change our educational methods. We need to change our content. We need to get the message out that the goal of hand hygiene is to prevent the transmission of disease. We need to ask staff if they have stopped the spread of your germs today? We cannot just put the handwashing flyer reminder somewhere out there in healthcare facilities. We need to change the signage and location of the information frequently, so the message remains on the minds of the providers. The message needs to be innovative. We need to create educational interventions that promote a change in personal behavior.

A major educational deficit that remains in the healthcare system is patient hand hygiene. How often do we encourage patients to perform hand hygiene while in the healthcare facility? Do we have signage to encourage patient handwashing? Is hand sanitizer available to our nonmobile patients? Do we offer an opportunity for patients to wash their hands before and after meals? After using a bedpan or commode, has the patient been provided with access to soap and water? Is the opportunity available in your healthcare facility for a patient to perform hand hygiene after coughing or sneezing? Are patients offered a chance to wash their hands after a procedure outside their room? Is hand sanitizer or soap and water available to the patient after a physical, occupational, or speech therapy session? Have we taught patients to complete hand hygiene after touching a wound or dressing?

Now is the time to provide education to patients encouraging the patients to ask for an opportunity to wash their hands while a patient in the healthcare facility. We need to educate patients to speak up for access to hand hygiene to prevent the transmission of disease. Access to soap and water or hand sanitizer is a necessity for patients in the healthcare facility. Professional development and infection control specialists can make a difference in the health of our patients. Emphasizing patient hand hygiene can only serve to decrease the infection rates in patients and stop the transmission of disease.

Our methodology for collecting hand hygiene compliance data needs to change. We need to ask ourselves tough questions. Do we truly empower our hand hygiene observers to conduct in-the-moment education with staff? Can all employees stop the line? Do we truly create a culture of do no harm? With the increased necessity for hand hygiene, is now the time to invest in technology to measure hand hygiene compliance? Do we need to begin to measure hand hygiene compliance in the patient population?

In this time of the global pandemic, patients are afraid to return to healthcare settings for routine care, elective procedures, and even emergent life-threatening procedures. Can we convince the public to return to the healthcare system for elective or life sustaining treatment with improved hand hygiene? COVID-19 has changed the world in which we live. Can we respond with increased rigor to prevent the spread of disease? Would you feel safer as a patient or a healthcare worker if we stopped transmitting disease?

By Mary Jean Ricci, MSN, RNBC
Published July 21, 2020
https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com

Mary Jean Ricci, MSN, RN-BC, is the director of clinical education at Drexel University College of Medicine. She’s also a nursing supervisor at Fox Chase Cancer Center in Philadelphia.

References:

Edmonds, M. Landon, E. Larson, E.& Price, C. Infection prevention in hospitals: the importance of hand hygiene. Infectious Disease News. April 2014.
Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Guidelines for hand hygiene in healthcare settings. CDC website. https://www.cdc.gov/handhygiene/index.html


Study: Regular Handwashing Reduces Personal Risk of Acquiring Seasonal Coronavirus Infection

In a new study looking at 1,633 participants of the England-wide Flu Watch project, a team of researchers found that moderate-frequency handwashing (6-10 times per day) was associated with a reduced overall risk of seasonal coronavirus infection.

The expanding global outbreak of COVID-19 demands an evidence-based public health response.

Seasonal human coronavirus strains (NL63, OC43, 229E, and HKU1) as well as SARS-CoV-2, a novel coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease, appear to be transmitted via droplets, direct and indirect contact with infected secretions and, to an unknown extent by aerosol.

Hand hygiene measures are recommended by health authorities and public health experts worldwide to interrupt these transmission mechanisms by preventing viral transfer via contact with infected people and surfaces.

While hand hygiene recommendations are acceptable in a variety of community settings worldwide and are widely recommended by health authorities, evaluation of their effects on the risk of illness in the general population is limited.

“It’s important to highlight that frequency of handwashing is only one aspect of hand hygiene,” said first author Sarah Beale, a researcher in the Public Health Data Science Research Group of the Institute of Health Informatics at University College London (UCL) and the UCL Institute of Epidemiology and Health Care.

“We also know that both longer duration of handwashing and the context of handwashing e.g. upon returning home or before eating — have been associated with lower overall risk of influenza or influenza-like-illness.”

“Good hand hygiene should be practiced at all times regardless of whether you show symptoms or not. This will help protect yourself and prevent unwittingly spreading the virus to others around you.”

For the study, Beale and colleagues used data from three successive winter cohorts (2006 to 2009) of the Flu Watch study, a national household-level prospective cohort study investigating transmission, burden and risk factors associated with influenza and other acute respiratory infections across England.

The majority of participants (almost 80%) were adults over sixteen years of age. They provided baseline estimates of hand hygiene behavior. Coronavirus infections were identified from nasal swabs using RT-PCR.

To assess overall handwashing frequency, participants were asked at baseline of each season to ‘Estimate how many times you washed your hands yesterday.’

Frequency of daily handwashing was subsequently categorized as low (≤5 times daily), moderate (6–10 times daily), or high (>10 times daily) guided by literature around influenza-like illness in Western community settings.

The outcome of interest was whether participants contracted any PCR-confirmed coronavirus infection in a season.

Detected coronavirus strains (NL63, OC43, and 229E) were combined into a binary outcome (yes/no coronavirus) as the effect of hand hygiene is believed to be consistent across these strains.

Moderate-frequency handwashing was associated with significantly reduced overall risk of contracting coronavirus (36% reduction in the risk of infection compared to those who washed their hands 0-5 times per day).

For higher intensity handwashing there was no significant dose-response effect.

“Something as simple as washing our hands regularly can help us to keep the infection rate low and reduce transmissions,” said senior author Ellen Fragaszy, a researcher in the Public Health Data Science Research Group at the UCL Institute of Health Informatics and the Department of Infectious Disease Epidemiology at London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.

“Given that COVID-19 appears to demonstrate similar transmission mechanisms to seasonal coronaviruses, these findings support clear public health messaging around the protective effects of handwashing during the pandemic,” Beale added.

The findings appear in the journal Wellcome Open Research.

Published May 25, 2020 by News Staff
http://www.sci-news.com

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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.


How better home hygiene could curb antibiotic resistance

Pharmacologists and infectious disease specialists say there is an urgent need to promote good hygiene in the home and in community settings. They believe that this will be essential in reducing antibiotic use and preventing the spread of drug-resistant bacteria in the coming years.

Rates of resistance to commonly used antibiotics have already reached 40–60% in some countries outside the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development (OECD) and are set to continue rising fast.

In OECD countries, rates of resistance could reach nearly 1 in 5 (or 18%) by 2030 for eight different bacterium-antibiotic combinations.

By 2050, about 10 million people could die each year as a result of resistance to antimicrobial agents.

While policymakers usually focus on hygiene in healthcare settings, such as hospitals, a group of pharmacology and infectious disease experts believes that improved hygiene in homes and community settings is just as important.

The scientists have published a position paper in the American Journal of Infection Control on behalf of the Global Hygiene Council.

“Although global and national [antimicrobial resistance] action plans are in place,” they write, “infection prevention and control is primarily discussed in the context of healthcare facilities with home and everyday life settings barely addressed.”

They have also launched a manifesto that calls on health policymakers to recognize the importance of this topic.

‘More urgent than ever’

Simple hygiene measures, such as hand washing, can help reduce infections and antibiotic use, the authors argue. In turn, this will minimize the development of resistance.

“In light of the current COVID-19 pandemic and evidence presented in this paper, it is more urgent than ever for policymakers to recognize the role of community hygiene to minimize the spread of infections, which, in turn, will help in reducing the consumption of antibiotics and help the fight against [antimicrobial resistance],” says lead author Prof. Jean-Yves Maillard from the School of Pharmacy and Pharmaceutical Sciences at Cardiff University in the United Kingdom.

The World Health Organization (WHO) estimate that 35% of common infections are already resistant to currently available medicines, with this figure rising to 80–90% in some low and middle income countries.

Overuse of the drugs accelerates the development of resistance. In the United States, for example, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) estimate that of the 80–90% of antibiotic use that occurs outside hospitals, about half is inappropriate or unnecessary.

The authors point out that while the majority of bacteria that are multidrug-resistant (resistant to at least one agent in three or more antimicrobial classes) get picked up in hospitals, some have become prevalent in the community.

Patients leaving the hospital can carry methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus (MRSA) on their skin, for example, or resistant strains of enterobacteria in their gut. Resistant bacteria can then pass to other family members.

The authors write:

“Although the precise impact of hygiene on transmission of infection between community and healthcare settings needs further investigation, it is important to recognize that reducing the need for antibiotic prescribing and the circulation of [antimicrobial-resistant] strains in healthcare settings cannot be achieved without also reducing circulation of infections and [resistant] strains in the community. We cannot allow hygiene in home and everyday life settings to become the weak link in the chain.”

Hand washing is a crucial measure

They argue that better hand hygiene would prevent many infections in the home and in community settings, such as schools, nurseries, and workplaces.

Only about 19% of people wash their hands after using the toilet, according to a review of research that the paper cites. The same review found that hand washing reduces the risk of diarrhea by nearly one-quarter (23%) in studies with good methodological design.

Educating people to wash their hands with ordinary soap is one of the best ways to reduce infections, according to experts. Overall, research has shown that improvements in hand hygiene lead to a 21% reduction in respiratory illnesses and a 31% reduction in gastrointestinal illnesses.

In addition, the position paper highlights the problem of foodborne pathogens, including Salmonella, Campylobacter, and Escherichia coli. These affect millions of people globally every year, causing diarrhea and other debilitating symptoms.

A 2014 study in Mexico found Salmonella in almost all cleaning cloths. Soaking these dish clothes in a 2% solution of bleach twice a day reduced the bacteria by 98%.

Key risks and strategies

The authors identify key risk moments for transmitting infections in the home. These are:

food handling, including contaminated chopping boards and kitchen sponges
using the toilet
changing a baby’s diaper
coughing, sneezing, and nose blowing
touching surfaces that others frequently touch
handling and laundering clothing and household linen
caring for domestic animals
disposing of refuse
caring for an infected family member

As key strategies to combat infection in the home, they recommend:

soap or detergent-based cleaning together with adequate rinsing
alcohol-based hand sanitizer
inactivation or eradication using a disinfectant on hard surfaces
mechanical removal using dry wiping
heating to at least 60°C (140°F)
UV treatment
a combination of the above

However, they note that further research is necessary to evaluate the extent to which these practices might contribute to preventing the transmission of antimicrobial-resistant bacteria.

By James Kingsland on May 25, 2020
Published at: https://www.medicalnewstoday.com


Improving Hand Hygiene Requires a Multi-Modal Approach

As hospitals reopen services, patients are seeking assurances the facility has made their well-being a priority from the moment they walk in the door.

Studies show patients feel safer knowing that their healthcare providers’ hand hygiene is being monitored.1 Hand Hygiene (HH) is a simple task performed in a complex environment. It is one of the most foundational aspects of patient safety that spans across all hierarchies and disciplines and there is much room for improvement in virtually every healthcare organization. The gold standard metric for measuring compliance has been direct observation (DO). However, less than 1% of all HH opportunities are captured.

Monitoring hand hygiene performance and providing personnel with feedback on their performance are essential elements of successful improvement programs. Recognizing that unit leadership and frontline healthcare workers (HCW) are closest to the patient – who better to speak up and provide the immediate reminders when hand hygiene opportunities are missed? To this end, many hospitals also have their infection preventionists or other hand hygiene team members serve as coaches, or just-in-time (JIT) coaches, who stop HCW when they observe a missed opportunity and have a conversation about contributing factors for noncompliance and provide education on hand hygiene protocols. While extremely valuable, this coaching occurs sporadically and often exclusively during dayshift, not on off-shifts and weekends. Considering the many opportunities for hand hygiene, the current system simply isn’t providing HCW with what they need to make hand hygiene a ritual, automatic behavior-– consistent immediate feedback.

Unit-led-just-in-time-coaching may very well be the key to providing consistent (24/7), nonpunitive, on-the-spot feedback when hand hygiene noncompliance is observed. Real-time identification of hand hygiene misses along with direct individual accountability have been shown to improve compliance.2,3 As hospitals seek to maximize resources, it is critical to find efficiencies that save time and reduce waste without detracting from patient care. Electronic compliance monitoring (ECM) systems provide the resources to track, monitor, and develop data-driven solutions. ECMs track soap and sanitizer dispenser activations (events) and room entries and exits (opportunities) to provide real-time performance metrics on staff, patients and visitors and captures data 24/7. The purpose of any ECM is to collect data about hand hygiene events and provide feedback to staff so that they can use it to change and improve their practices. Understanding how the ECM system works and having trust in the validity of the data generated is critical for staff buy-in and behavior change.

By Megan J. DiGiorgio and Lori Moore
Published August 12, 2020
www.healthleadersmedia.com