Good Hand Hygiene Helps You Fight COVID-19
COVID-19, a pandemic, has been changing every aspect of life since February. According to John Hopkins University, as of April 15, 2020, more than 2 million people are infected worldwide, and the number of deaths continues to rise.
While effective treatments and vaccines are being investigated, the results are still inconclusive. Therefore, the current mainstay of strategy is prevention. In addition to social distancing, C.D.C. (Centers of Disease Control and Prevention) also recommends other personal protective measures, including hand washing.
Why is Hand Washing Important?
Pathogens can be transmitted in several ways, and hand washing is an effective way to stop them from spreading. Take COVID-19 as an example, the main transmission routes are through respiratory droplets and close contact. When patients cough or sneeze, they send droplets containing the virus into the air. Other people can breathe in those droplets and then get infected.
In addition, these virus-contained droplets/aerosols can land on other surfaces. Researchers found COVID-19 coronavirus can survive “up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel”. These surfaces include countertops and doorknobs. Thereafter, one can also catch the living virus via touching a contaminated surface or object and then touching his/her mouth, nose, or eyes. That is why the coronavirus is highly contagious. In fact, not only COVID-19, but also other infectious pathogens, share this same attribute.
Your healthcare providers are aware of this and are trying their best to prevent the spread of disease. Back to 2009, in order to combat infection occurring inside healthcare facilities (HAI, Healthcare Associated Infection), W.H.O. (World Health Organization) launched a global campaign, that is, “Save Lives: Clean Your Hands”. Nearly 19,000 health facilities in 177 countries across the world have supported hand hygiene improvement through this campaign. The marked behavioral changes resulted in a significant reduction of infection rate, ranging from 20% to 50% across the world.The lesson learned here is we can save lives just by executing this simple procedure, and it takes everyone’s participation.
How to Wash Your Hands Thoroughly?
Now it is your turn. In order to better protect yourself from being exposed, detailed hand washing is the way to go. Per C.D.C’s recommendation, you should wash your hands with soaps and clean water for at least 20 seconds.
Here are the 5 steps to correctly wash your hands:
- Wet your hands with clean running water (warm or cold), turn off the tap, 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.
- Rinse your hands well under clean running water.
- Dry your hands using a clean towel or air dry them.
The following visual instruction is adopted from W.H.O. website:
Among these steps, the common missed parts are the back of both hands, and the fingertips and the both thumbs. This 1-min video, produced by Spartanburg Regional Healthcare System, SC, demonstrates why each step is so important to keep your hands clean. Meanwhile, C.D.C. also offers a 2-min Q&A video to address possible questions you might have. Check them out!
Actions speak louder than words. Let’s practice good hand washing together to protect ourselves, our family, and our communities.