Amidst the large number of schools, business and border closures as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic, there’s been at least one positive development. The importance of good hygiene and health practices has been highlighted now more than ever.
It is relatively old knowledge that practicing social distancing, good hygiene and proper sanitation can limit exposure to many viruses – not just COVID-19. When sick, these practices reduce the potential spread of whatever is causing the individual’s illness. Additionally, they help protect individuals with compromised immune systems, underlying health conditions or the elderly.
As time goes on this particular pandemic will end, but at-risk populations will still be vulnerable. Proper health hygiene should not disappear with the coronavirus. Stockpiling months-worth of hand sanitizer and rubbing alcohol may no longer occur, but there are a few things that should continue after the virus has been contained.
Frequently wash hands with soap and water
Human beings touch many things each day, most of which are touched by other people. Each individual who touches a surface or an object has the potential to leave behind a virus or bacteria that can incite illness in another. As such, cleaning your hands using soap and water before eating and at regular intervals is vital to protect against harmful microbes. Hands need to be scrubbed for a minimum of 20 seconds with soap and water for maximum effectiveness.
Avoid touching your face
Everyone unconsciously touches their face regularly throughout the day so it takes great effort to stop – especially when the individual is sick. Our faces have three main entry points for microbes, the eyes, nose and mouth. When an individual exposes unclean hands to their faces, it is quite easy for a virus to enter the body through one of those points and subsequently cause illness.
Clean and disinfect your environment
It is good practice to ensure that high-touch areas in our environment are either washed or wiped with disinfectants frequently. It is not as effective to wash your hands regularly if you constantly touch potentially microbe-infested surfaces.
Maintain good airflow in your home
Good airflow can help limit exposure to many bacteria and viruses. Allowing fresh air into the house ensures that contaminated air is continuously removed and there is not a large settling of dust particles. Dust can affect some individuals’ allergies and weaken their immune systems, thus making them more susceptible to other illnesses.
Use hand sanitizer throughout the day
Hand sanitizers can be nearly as effective as using water and soap and the ones that are alcohol-based have been proven to kill many microbes. While proper hand washing should not be replaced by using hand sanitizer, it does help in situations where access to soap and water is limited.
Practice good cough/sneeze etiquette
Many bacteria and viruses are transferred from person to person through the air when an infected individual either coughs or sneezes. To help limit the transfer of these microbes, individuals should cough or sneeze into their elbow or use tissues, which can then be quickly discarded. Additionally, always wash your hands after you cough or sneeze.
These are just a few ways that can help limit the spread of viruses and harmful bacteria in the population. With the way things are now, it is a good time to make these practices become long-lasting habits. This way, the members of the at-risk population in our communities, cities and countries can be a little safer.