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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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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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/


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


European Commission awards Resani Seal of Excellence for Covid-19 Response

Press Release: Oslo, Norway, 08.06.20

The European Commission has awarded Resani the Seal of Excellence for its Horizon 2020 proposal with relevance to addressing the challenges of Covid-19 and recommends the proposal for funding. The Seal of Excellence is a quality label, co-signed by the European Commissioner for Innovation, Research, Culture and Youth, Mariya Gabriel, and by Commissioner for Cohesion and Reforms, Elisa Ferreira, and is awarded only to proposals deemed excellent and evaluated worth of funding.

In a highly competitive process, consisting of more than 4000 proposals that were submitted under the European Innovation Council (EIC) Accelerator Pilot for Covid-19 Response in March 2020, Resani was one of 230 applicants invited to present our project before an international panel of independent experts, and was scored as “a high-quality project proposal” and despite qualifying for funding, the European Commission could not grant Resani’s proposal funding given the limited resources available for the call.

However, we are very proud to have received the Seal of Excellence from the European Commission, and because of it, we are more motivated than ever and see this as a great validation for our vision to reshape the global approach to hand sanitisation and to better equip and shield our societies against Covid-19 and future viral outbreaks. We remain confident that we will find the perfect partners within the next weeks and months that will help us in the final steps in bringing Resani’s technology to the world; a world that is in desperate need of new accessible, reliable and sustainable hand sanitisation technology that will help save lives.

Stay tuned!

For more information, please contact:
Ingvild M.S. Løken
CEO
Email: isl@resani.com

resani.com


Why Americans are tiring of social distancing and hand-washing – 2 behavioral scientists explain

States are beginning to open up their economies after successfully slowing the spread of the coronavirus. Much of the credit for that goes to Americans dutifully following prescribed behavior.

People have been washing their hands frequently, maintaining physical distance from others, wearing face masks, sanitizing door knobs and even disinfecting food and packages brought into the house.

But in order to continue to contain the spread of the virus, we’ll still need to sustain these behaviors for weeks and maybe months to come. Will people be able to maintain their vigilance over time?

As scholars who study health-related behavior change, we’re skeptical. While continuing to wash your hands and stay six feet away from others doesn’t seem so hard for an individual, the problem is that people are unable to “see” the benefits of their actions – and thus often don’t recognize just how important they are.

As a result, adherence to these protective behaviors could wane over time without policies designed to sustain them.

Intangible benefits

It is, in fact, remarkable to us that efforts to promote hygiene measures have been as successful as they have been. That’s because they are almost the embodiment of the types of protective measures that people are especially bad at taking.

The most obvious reasons are that maintaining physical distances and constantly washing hands are inconvenient and require constant vigilance. The costs of these behaviors are immediate, but the benefits are delayed.

A more subtle and equally important reason, however, is that the benefits are intangible: You can’t touch, taste, feel or see the benefits of, for example, wiping off your door knob.

One reason the benefits are intangible is that people tend to be insensitive to even dramatic changes in probabilities – such as from one-in-a-thousand chance to one-in-a-million chance – when it comes to small probability events such as the chance of contracting coronavirus.

This is true unless the change in probability leads to certainty that the event will not occur, which is why people are not eager to engage in preventive behaviors unless they completely eliminate the risk, as research by psychologists has shown.

For example, one study found that people were willing to pay much more to reduce a pesticide risk from 5 in 10,000 to 0 in 10,000 than from 15 in 10,000 to 10 in 10,000, even though the actual reduction in risk was identical. A similar study concluded that people were more attracted to a vaccine said to entirely eliminate a 10% risk for a disease than to one that reduced the risk from 20% to 10%. And a third one found that a vaccine described as 100% effective in preventing 70% of known cases of a disease was more appealing than one that was 70% effective in preventing all cases even though both would have the same net effect.

Even if we follow all recommendations about sheltering in place, washing hands, wearing masks and disinfecting grocery deliveries, we can only reduce and not eliminate the chance of catching COVID-19.

Will people continue to feel that it’s really worth it to sanitize all those plastic bags from the supermarket if the only effect is to reduce the odds from, say, 1 in 2,000 to 1 in 3,000?

Invisible impact

Another reason the benefits of prevention seem intangible is that we don’t get useful feedback about the effects of our actions.

The microbes are invisible, so we have no idea whether we had them before we washed our hands or have gotten rid of them after we have done so.

In addition, we get no feedback about how a particular protective action has changed our probability of getting infected. If all of our actions work, the outcome is that we don’t get sick. But not being sick was the state we were in before we took those actions. Thus, it seems as if the preventive actions caused nothing to happen because we can’t see the negative outcome that might have happened if we hadn’t been so vigilant.

Documenting such a pattern, studies of treatment for depression have found that many patients skip or discontinue taking antidepressants as soon as their symptoms improve, leading to relapse.

The same is likely true at a societal level. If all the sacrifices people are making pay off in the form of lower infection rates, people will point to those low rates as evidence that the sacrifices weren’t actually necessary. Such a pattern has been documented among anti-vaxxers, who claim that low rates of diseases that are vaccinated against are evidence that the vaccine wasn’t needed in the first place.

When one is healthy, it is very difficult to imagine being sick – even when one has been sick in the past. This probably has something to do with low rates of adherence to lifesaving medications.

For example, one year after hospitalization for a heart attack, nearly half of patients prescribed statins stop taking them. And rates of medication adherence for acute diabetics are similarly dismal.

In both cases, people who are healthy – or even those who are sick but not experiencing immediate symptoms – don’t appear to appreciate the risks of failing to protect themselves.

Constant vigilance

So how can we sustain vigilance in the face of pervasive intangibility?

We could remind ourselves that life rarely offers certainty, and behaviors that reduce risk significantly are worth continuing even if they don’t eliminate it altogether. Or we could try to keep in mind those who have been hospitalized or even killed by COVID-19 – a fate that could befall any of us.

Realistically, however, neither of these approaches is likely to have much traction due to the intangibility of the effects of preventive behaviors. And so the best policies are those that eliminate the need for individual decision-making altogether, such as when stores ensure grocery carts and public spaces are kept well sanitized.

As for policymakers, they could compel companies to maintain these measures as a condition of being open. And they could design regulations that require people to continue to wear face masks in public or don gloves when entering public buildings, while lightly punishing those who don’t comply. Small penalties can have a huge impact on behavior.

The longer these behaviors are maintained, the more likely it is that they’ll become habitual, overcoming the problem of their benefits being intangible. And society will be able to get back to some semblance of normal while keeping the lid on the coronavirus.

By Mr. Edwyne Fernandes
Published May 31, 2020

This is an updated version of an article originally published on April 20, 2020.
https://theconversation.com


A (Surprisingly) Brief History Of Handwashing

Handwashing can help kill the coronavirus. But you may be surprised by how short the history of handwashing actually is among humans.

Guests

Miryam Wahrman, professor of biology at William Paterson University. Author of “The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World,” published in 2016. (@MiryamWahrman)

Peter Ward, professor emeritus of history at the University of British Columbia. Author of the 2019 book “The Clean Body: A Modern History.” (@UBC_History)

Emma Robbins, director of the Navajo Water Project at DigDeep, a human rights nonprofit dedicated to water access in America. Navajo artist and activist. (@robbinzintherez)

Interview Highlights

On the effectiveness of handwashing

Miryam Wahrman: “Soap is hydrophobic. And as are cell membranes. And also the coverings around viruses. And so that type of hydrophobic interaction can disrupt the structure. But the other part of the process of cleansing hands is that various things can stick on our hands. And soap helps to break the bonds between what has attached to our skin and it helps to get rid of it. And then we just rinse it down the drain. So that’s another really important part of the process of why soap and water are the most effective way to cleanse the hands. Not everything has to get killed, not all the microbes have to get killed, as long as they are removed from the surface of the skin. Then we rinse them away.”

When is it that we first began to see soap or handwashing in the context of health?

Peter Ward: “It’s a surprisingly recent development, actually. And it’s really related to the long, long, complicated history of human hygiene. It’s a story that … [goes] back to the Roman times. But it really picks up in the period from about the beginning of the 17th century onward. And there’s been since that period of time a huge transformation of body care and body treatment that sort of began in the upper reaches of a number of Western communities and gradually diffused and percolated downwards to our own dear times, when we are now obsessed with our cleanliness. At least in some respects, it seems we exempt our hands to some extent. But the rest of us, we really pay a lot of attention to.”

On handwashing in the 20th century

Miryam Wahrman: “As we get to the mid-20th century, we begin to see that hand hygiene, in fact hygiene in general and the access to clean water, has changed the landscape in terms of human health very dramatically. And the average life expectancy from 100 years ago to today has increased from about the mid-40s, up to about 80 or more. And some of that has to do with public health and hygiene and even the simple act of having access to soap and water and the types of procedures that are done in hospitals using a septic technique now. Where now we don’t have as high a risk of infection of our patients, going from patient to patient.

“These are all tremendously important improvements in terms of health, in terms of average life expectancy, in terms of recovery from disease. And these all came about thanks to scientists that were able to show the link between germs and disease, and specific germs and specific disease. So it is a long story and it does cover about 150 years, but they’re really tremendously exciting. 150 years in terms of science. I think the thing we have to keep in mind is that the science is critical in terms of helping us to move forward and to be able to deal with this challenge.”

How have things changed in terms of access to running water, bathrooms, et cetera?

Peter Ward: “About half of American homes had a bathroom in the 1940 census. And today, virtually all American homes have a bathroom. As indeed, the homes everywhere [in] the Western world. Some of them have many. So that transformation has been gradual and varied from one part of the country to the next. One social group to the next, as well. But it’s really been one of the fundamental changes that’s been associated with the hygienic revolution and the handwashing part of all that.”

” … There are these additional layers that have to do with access to privacy, access to water, development of effective sewage systems, and so on and so forth. And the people who are marginal in our world today are the people who live beyond the edges of these things. There are certainly — I know people in the United States who do live beyond the edges. And there certainly are people in my own country as well. Who many of them are First Nations people, the indigenous peoples of North America, who live in more remote areas and who do not have easy access to clean water.”

On access to clean water in the Navajo Nation

Emma Robbins: “When you are able to wash your hands, it’s very empowering. You’re reducing the risk and you’re literally in your hands, you have the ability to save lives. However, when you don’t have running water in your homes, you can’t do that for 20 seconds. You know, you can use bottled water, but that takes a ton of bottled water to wash your hands. And many families don’t have that luxury. And so there’s a third element that I always say.

“Well, number one, when you’re leaving your house to go get water, you’re exposing yourself to the virus potentially. You know, oftentimes you can get to stores and there isn’t any bottled water that’s left either on the reservation or in border towns. The second thing is when you’re doing that, there’s a lot of stress that’s involved. And we see constantly on social media, on the Internet and TV that those are the things that we can do, staying at home, handwashing. But when you can’t do that, it’s scary. You know, you start to feel like the other, that you’re not able to protect yourselves or your families. And it can be really, really, really impactful on everybody of all ages. And, you know, we’re already all experiencing not having money, not having work, you know, having to stay at home, especially in the Navajo Nation. They have a 57 hour curfew on the weekends and it’s hard. And so not having that is a lot more stressful.”

From The Reading List

Excerpt from “The Clean Body: A Modern History” by Peter Ward

Excerpted from “The Clean Body: A Modern History” by Peter Ward © 2019. Published by McGill-Queen’s University Press. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, McGill-Queen’s University Press. All rights reserved.

Excerpt from “The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World” by Miryam Wahrman

Excerpted from “The Hand Book: Surviving in a Germ-Filled World” by Miryam Wahrman © 2016. Published by ForeEdge, an imprint of University Press of New England. Reprinted with the permission of the publisher, University Press of New England. All rights reserved.

The Embryo Project Encyclopedia (Originally published in The New England Quarterly Journal of Medicine and Surgery): “‘The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever’ (1843), by Oliver Wendell Holmes” — “In 1843, physician Oliver Wendell Holmes wrote and published “The Contagiousness of Puerperal Fever,” an essay about puerperal fever, a disease that occurs mainly as a result of bacterial infection in the uterine tract of women after giving birth or undergoing an abortion. In the essay, Holmes argues that puerperal fever is spread through birth attendants like physicians and midwives who make contact with the disease and carry it from patient to patient. The article was published in The New England Quarterly Journal of Medicine and Surgery in 1843.”

Vox: “The evolution of hand-washing, explained by a historian” — “Are we all washing our hands several times a day? As the Covid-19 coronavirus pandemic spreads, we should all be washing our hands several times a day. Take a moment right now, go give your hands a scrub with some warm soapy water for 20 seconds, and then come back. Maybe spritz around some hand sanitizer if you don’t have access to a sink. Put on a little hand lotion so your skin doesn’t get too chapped.”

Popular Mechanics: “The Shockingly Recent History of People Actually Washing Their Hands” — “It has become a ubiquitous mantra in the time of COVID-19: Wash your hands. Cheap and easy to do, it’s one of the few pieces of advice that is essentially without controversy. And yet, hand-washing is a more recent development than you might expect, and the habit did not catch on quickly.”

Washington Post: “Americans are told to wash hands to fight coronavirus. But some don’t trust the tap.” — “For the Chavez family and many others in California’s fertile San Joaquin Valley, bottled water is the toilet paper of their coronavirus pandemic — an everyday necessity that vanished from supermarket shelves.”

The Guardian: “Keep it clean: The surprising 130-year history of handwashing” — “It felt strange when Boris Johnson emerged from the first Covid-19 Cobra meeting on 2 March and told us to wash our hands while singing Happy Birthday. The preppers among us had panic-shopped while awaiting his pronouncements, and others fretted about vulnerable loved ones, travel plans, the nightmare of simultaneous homeworking and home-schooling, and not being able to work at all. And all our leader had was this?”

Freethink: “COVID’s Unique Challenge For the Navajo Nation” — “Sprawling across roughly 27,000 square miles of deserts and high plateaus, the Navajo Nation is not immune to the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic. The sovereign nation’s battle with SARS-CoV-2 has seen 2,373 confirmed cases, as of May 2, and 73 deaths. Its per capita infection rate trailed only New York and New Jersey by late April.”

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.
Copyright 2020 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.

Published May 11th  2020 at: https://wamu.org


Don’t Let Hand Hygiene Standards Dip When COVID-19 Ebbs

As communities move into the next phase of COVID-19, healthcare organizations must keep hand hygiene top of mind in all environments to ensure patient and employee safety, and to ultimately reduce the risk of cross-contamination and HAIs.

Keeping healthcare staff informed of the latest protocols and essential hygiene measures will have a profound impact on the post-pandemic world, but driving behavioural change can be extremely challenging. To achieve hand hygiene compliance, healthcare facilities should focus on three areas:

· Hygiene training

· Hygiene tools and dispenser placement

· Signage

With 40% of surveyed healthcare workers saying they would like better training in hand hygiene, healthcare facilities can combine technology with hand hygiene training to help staff easily adapt to the demands of their environment.

Implementing a technology-first approach to training is an engaging and interactive way to reinforce hand-hygiene and sanitization protocols within a facility. According to educational technology pioneer Edgar Dale, learning by doing (direct, purposeful experience) is essential to keeping learners actively engaged as opposed to being passive observers. In fact, the University of Oklahoma created a similar learning hierarchy that emphasizes the usefulness of virtual reality in the learning process today. Virtual reality apps are a readily available and effective means to reinforce the World Health Organization’s “5 Moments of Hand Hygiene.” These apps can serve as an innovative alternative to hand hygiene training.

It is equally important to consider the critical factors of hygiene access in a facility, such as location of hygiene tools and hand-washing stations. Dispenser placement is key to promoting hand hygiene compliance within a healthcare environment.

It is imperative that dispensers are placed throughout walking routes and corridors to ensure accessibility for nurses and other staff on-the-go. Increasing the accessibility and visibility of hand hygiene stations throughout a facility can have a significant impact on hand hygiene practices without adding an extra burden to your environmental services staff (EVS).

Most healthcare staff understand the importance of hand washing, but visual cues for staff and patients are essential in the ongoing education of hand hygiene best practices and are especially helpful for nurses working long shifts.

Hand hygiene focused signage is an effective way to further hygiene and sanitization communication with staff, on an everyday basis. In addition to improving health standards, hand hygiene posters can also have a positive effect on a facility’s image. In fact, more than 8 in 10 patients indicate that the presence of hand hygiene signage makes them feel more confident about a facility’s cleanliness and its quality of care.

These simple steps can have a far-reaching impact on the success of hygiene compliance within a healthcare facility and takes hand hygiene from an afterthought to a long-lasting habit and routine—as it should be.

Deborah Chung is the regional marketing manager for Essity Professional Hygiene, North America.

 
By Deborah Chung
May 8, 2020

Published at: https://www.infectioncontroltoday.com

Deborah Chung is the regional marketing manager for Essity Professional Hygiene, North America.


Could COVID-19 Permanently Change Hand Hygiene?

An anthropologist tackles the slippery subject of hand sanitization in a world torn between concerns over contagion and antibiotic resistance.

Here in the Philippines, as in many parts of the world, there’s been an outbreak of hand sanitizers. Since late January, pump dispensers and bottles have appeared everywhere: airports, schools, dining tables, handbags. In SM, the country’s largest chain of shopping malls, large containers of hand sanitizers greet visitors as they pass through security. “This is a sanitized zone,” SM’s posters read. “Thank you for using the alcohol/disinfectant provided.”

When the enhanced community quarantine started here on March 17, sanitizer showed up at road checkpoints. And though the shops in the mall are closed, customers can still shop at mall supermarkets—after the staff sprays alcohol on their hands.
This is not surprising. The COVID-19 pandemic has spurred people around the world to panic-buy Purell and other hand sanitizers, soaps, and antibacterial wipes. What is surprising is that, until the pandemic hit Western countries, the trend was going in the opposite direction.

Over the past decade, there’s been a growing concern that the impulse to kill all germs could have serious consequences, such as the creation of resistant superbugs. This has certainly impacted people’s hand hygiene habits.

For the last few years, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) has advised people to stop using antibacterial soap, which is no more effective at preventing illness than regular soap and may negatively impact health. After discovering that common ingredients in antibacterial soap—most notably triclosan and triclocarban—disrupt hormones in lab animals and induce antibiotic resistance, the FDA banned those chemicals in 2016 and replaced them with alternatives.

However, when soap and water are unavailable, hand sanitizers and wipes are considered an acceptable alternative because they rely on alcohol to vanquish certain viruses (including coronaviruses) and bacteria.

Still, before the current pandemic, some health experts urged people to cut back even on alcohol-based hand sanitizer. That’s partly because some bacteria are becoming more tolerant of alcohol. And it’s partly due to concerns that sanitizers might harm the microbiome—the trillions of microbes living on and in the human body that are essential for healthy immune function, digestion, and more.
In recent years, many researchers have expressed concerns that over-sanitized societies are contributing to autoimmune disorders, allergies, and inflammatory conditions. This “hygiene hypothesis” is controversial, but there’s no question that scientists and the public have been awakening to the fact that some microbes can be beneficial.

Yet in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic, everyone is understandably consumed by the process of hand sanitizing, and many people are finding it nearly impossible to buy sanitizer online or in stores. People who just weeks ago purposely petted dogs to boost the diversity of their microbiomes now find themselves disinfecting their hand sanitizer bottles with antibacterial wipes.

To understand this sudden change, it is revealing to explore the complex history and anthropology of hand cleansing. What motivates people’s handwashing habits? How do beliefs about sanitizers and microbes figure in? How have previous epidemics led to shifts in these notions? And what might the post-COVID future hold for hand hygiene?
Even before 19th-century scientists discovered that germs cause disease, handwashing was important for hygienic and symbolic purposes in many societies and religious traditions. The Prophet Muhammad, for instance, called on Muslims to wash their hands in a variety of situations, including “before and after any meal,” “after going to the toilet,” “after touching a dog, shoes, or a cadaver,” and “after handling anything soiled.”

In other societies, hand hygiene practices primarily originated from secular discoveries. In 1846, Hungarian doctor Ignaz Semmelweis observed that mothers giving birth were more likely to die if they were treated by doctors who handled cadavers beforehand. So, Semmelweis mandated that hospital staff wash their hands with soap and chlorine. He later became known as the father of hand hygiene. A few years later, forward-thinking nurse Florence Nightingale implemented handwashing in British army hospitals.

Despite the efforts of these pioneers, the practice of widespread, regular handwashing was slow to take off in most of the world. In the U.S., the first national hand hygiene guidelines weren’t published until the 1980s, spurred by several foodborne outbreaks and hospital-associated infections. It was in that decade that a global hand cleansing movement was born.

The rise of hand sanitizers mirrors this move of hand hygiene from the hospital to the world at large. Some accounts claim that Lupe Hernandez, a nursing student in California, invented hand sanitizer in 1966 when she realized alcohol mixed with gel could help hospital staff clean their hands in a jiffy.

Others trace its beginnings to Gojo, a family-owned Ohio company that launched a hand cleanser for auto mechanics then tweaked the recipe and released it in 1988 as Purell. After a slow start, the product achieved the near ubiquity it enjoys today.
Incidentally, alcohol-based hand sanitizers once caused ambivalence among Muslims, owing to alcohol being haram (forbidden). But today, Muslim health care workers largely accept them, even though the question of whether hand sanitizers are halal (permissible) continues to spark debate.

Epidemics have repeatedly stimulated the popularity of hand sanitizers. In the Philippines, a clothing store called Bench introduced Alcogel shortly after the 1997 H1N1 outbreak. It attained “phenomenal success,” according to Bench’s CEO Ben Chan. A similar sanitization surge occurred in the U.S. during the H1N1 epidemic of 2009.
As The Guardian’s Laura Barton wrote in 2012, “Thanks to the heightened fear of contamination experienced during recent flu epidemics, there is now a value judgment attached to carrying and using an antibacterial gel.”

Infectious disease outbreaks have also influenced societies’ soap-and-water habits. A 2003 study of six international airports found that in Toronto—which was hit by a major outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) that year—95 percent of male travelers and 97 percent of female travelers washed their hands in the public restrooms. By contrast, in New York’s John F. Kennedy Airport, only 63 percent of men and 78 percent of women washed their hands.

So, is fear of disease a great motivator for soaping up or squirting hand gel? Perhaps during a pandemic, the answer is yes. However, fear generally has only a temporary effect on ablutions, according to a review led by anthropologist Valerie Curtis. Furthermore, Curtis has warned, creating cleanliness campaigns that play on people’s anxiety is not good for mental health.

Instead, she recommends harnessing a different emotion.

In the early 2000s, Curtis was aiming to change the handwashing habits of people in Ghana, where only 4 percent of adults regularly used soap after going to the bathroom. Previous campaigns had failed, and the situation was urgent, since an estimated 84,000 children were dying of diarrhea each year.

So, Curtis created a campaign designed to generate disgust. At the time, bathrooms were considered cleaner alternatives to pit latrines, so they didn’t inspire an ick factor that might prompt Ghanaians to lather up. Curtis and her group developed ads that showed mothers and children exiting bathrooms with their hands covered in purple pigment, which they then transferred to everything they touched. Soap use subsequently rose by 13 percent following trips to the toilet and by 41 percent before eating.

Such a campaign could inspire future efforts in the wake of COVID-19. In a study released in December 2019, researchers at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) and the University of Cyprus calculated that if travelers at airports raised the bar on their soap-use habits, the impact of a future pandemic could be reduced by 24 to 69 percent. Yet the same researchers estimated that, although 70 percent of air travelers wash their hands, most do not wash them adequately (frequently, with soap, for at least 20 seconds), so only 20 percent actually have clean hands.
Pandemics arguably tip the scale back to a Pasteurian paradigm.

Shifting views about microbes may complicate the issue of disgust. MIT anthropologist Heather Paxson has written that many people hold a Pasteurian worldview, in which they “blame colds on germs, demand antibiotics from doctors, and drink ultra-pasteurized milk and juice, while politicians on the campaign trail slather on hand sanitizer.”

But Paxson also points out that there is an emergent, alternative paradigm: a “post-Pasteurian” view. Post-Pasteurians “might be concerned about antibiotic resistance” and embrace microbiome diversifiers like probiotics, unpasteurized milk, kombucha, and unsanitized handshakes.

Since Paxson’s work was published in 2008, this post-Pasteurian paradigm has grown. Scientists have even considered ways they might promote more positive feelings for microorganisms and foster collaboration in human-microbe relationships.

Pandemics arguably tip the scale back to a Pasteurian paradigm. Currently, people are bombarded with images (and imaginings) of a potentially deadly virus for which there is, at least at the moment, neither vaccine nor cure. Thus, hand sanitizers and wipes emblazoned with the statement “kills 99.9 percent of germs” give people a sense of control over an unseen, and suddenly hostile, microbial world.
But people’s hand hygiene practices are also motivated by a visible and often friendlier force.

In 2016, researchers found that doctors and nurses at a California hospital washed or sanitized their hands 57 percent of the time when they knew that designated “hygiene patrol” nurses were watching them but only 22 percent of the time when volunteers who they didn’t recognize observed them.

Just like the wearing of face masks, social pressure can certainly motivate people to clean their hands. A recent review from Curtis and other researchers showed that people were more likely to lather up when there was more than one person present in a public restroom.

Prompted by the COVID-19 pandemic, some health experts are attempting to “responsibilize individuals” by framing handwashing as a selfless act that saves lives. Social media campaigns like #SafeHands and #HandwashingHeroes are also making appeals to social responsibility by showing celebrities and adorable children getting sudsy to prevent disease.

Similarly, face masks became an emblem of “public spiritedness” during the 1918 influenza pandemic. In some places, for instance, Japan, the practice of wearing masks continued and became part of the country’s hygiene culture.

In the aftermath of past pandemics, people have generally returned to their previous handwashing habits. But the COVID-19 crisis is different from other outbreaks. Never before have hand sanitizing and social distancing practices been enacted on such a global scale.

So, could COVID-19 cause permanent changes to handwashing habits around the planet? Could hand sanitizer become an enduring symbol of responsible world citizenship? Could the pro-microbe perspective swing back to a Pasteurian panic over germs?
Only time will tell. But it’s something to ponder while you scrub or sanitize your hands for at least 20 seconds.

By Gideon Lasco
He is a senior lecturer of anthropology at the University of the Philippines.
Published  8 April 2020
https://www.sapiens.org