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How to wash away those viruses

Colin Dang

Happy Birthday to you (twice!) Why washing your hands is the easiest way to protect yourself from illness.

There’s a lot in the news at the moment about viruses being spread and washing your hands is one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as food poisoning and flu.

You should wash your hands for the amount of time it takes to sing "Happy Birthday" twice (around 20 seconds) although maybe refrain from doing this in public toilets - or sing it in your head!

  1. Wet your hands with water.
  2.  Apply enough soap to cover your hands.
  3. Rub your hands together.
  4. Use 1 hand to rub the back of the other hand and clean in between the fingers. Do the same with the other hand.
  5.  Rub your hands together and clean in between your fingers.
  6. Rub the back of your fingers against your palms.
  7. Rub your thumb using your other hand. Do the same with the other thumb.
  8. Rub the tips of your fingers on the palm of your other hand. Do the same with other hand.
  9. Rinse your hands with water.
  10. Dry your hands completely with a disposable towel.
  11. Use the disposable towel to turn off the tap.

 

If you do not have immediate access to soap and water then use alcohol-based handrub if available.

When should you wash your hands?

You should wash your hands:

  • after using the toilet or changing a nappy
  • before and after handling raw foods like meat and vegetables
  • before eating or handling food
  • after blowing your nose, sneezing or coughing
  • before and after treating a cut or wound
  • after touching animals, including pets, their food and after cleaning their cages

 

Washing your hands properly removes dirt, viruses and bacteria to stop them spreading to other people and objects, which can spread illnesses such as food poisoning, flu or diarrhoea.

It can help stop people picking up infections and spreading them to others, as well as helping to stop spreading infections when you're visiting someone in hospital or another healthcare setting.

 

Here is some advice regarding hygiene against coronavirus (https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019/advice-for-public)

Wash your hands frequently

Wash your hands frequently with soap and water or use an alcohol-based hand rub if your hands are not visibly dirty.

Why? Washing your hands with soap and water or using alcohol-based hand rub eliminates the virus if it is on your hands. 

Practice respiratory hygiene

When coughing and sneezing, cover mouth and nose with flexed elbow or tissue – discard tissue immediately into a closed bin and clean your hands with alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.

Why? Covering your mouth and nose when coughing and sneezing prevents the spread of germs and viruses. If you sneeze or cough into your hands, you may contaminate objects or people that you touch.

 

Maintain social distancing

Maintain at least 1 metre (3 feet) distance between yourself and other people, particularly those who are coughing, sneezing and have a fever.

 Why? When someone who is infected with a respiratory disease, like 2019-nCoV, coughs or sneezes they project small droplets containing the virus. If you are too close, you can breathe in the virus.

 

As a general precaution, practice general hygiene measures when visiting live animal markets, wet markets or animal product markets.

 Ensure regular hand washing with soap and potable water after touching animals and animal products; avoid touching eyes, nose or mouth with hands; and avoid contact with sick animals or spoiled animal products. Strictly avoid any contact with other animals in the market (e.g., stray cats and dogs, rodents, birds, bats). Avoid contact with potentially contaminated animal waste or fluids on the soil or structures of shops and market facilities.

Avoid consumption of raw or undercooked animal products

and handle raw meat, milk or animal organs with care, to avoid cross-contamination with uncooked foods, as per good food safety practices.

 This may sound quite alarming and restricting, but you’re probably doing this already, it’s just these little tips and tricks that can make all the difference and keep you healthy.

Watch this video to find out the best way to wash your hands and happy birthday to you! Twice…

 (https://www.nhs.uk/live-well/healthy-body/best-way-to-wash-your-hands/)

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