Handling Covid-19

(Nextgov, 2020)

As we all start to resume our normal daily habits and lifestyles, it can be easy to slip back into quick or improper hygiene practices that a mere few months ago would have make us shudder. The hustle and bustle of shops and public spaces reopening may slacken our steadfast approach to cleanliness, and being aware of how we conduct ourselves, both outdoors and indoors (from when we step through our front door) is imperative to preventing spreading Covid-19. Keeping our hands clean is the first step preventative that we should be undertaking to help keep us safe and healthy.

Hand sanitiser

Hand sanitiser comes in various substances such as gels, foams and liquids. These are used to decrease the amount of bacteria that you may come into contact with on a daily basis. By using hand sanitiser it can reduce individuals spreading germs through what they come into contact with, and can be preventive in causing illness and infection.

At the height of the pandemic, when shops rushed to stock-up, hand gel and soaps were top of the list… along with loo roll. However, for an item that quickly sold out (and that were being sold for extortionate rates online) hand sanitiser has now become prevalent and considerably less expensive and can be found at the front of shops being sold for as little as a pound.

Although hand washing is preferred, and factually more effective than using hand sanitiser when removing bacteria, keeping a bottle of hand gel on your person has become the new norm. It is worth mentioning that hand sanitiser does not work effectively at removing bacteria such as Noroviruses (bugs that causes stomach upsets and diarrhea) (Capritto, 2020).

So why is hand gel so important?

(AARP, 2020)

It is important to remember that hand washing is the best practice when out and about in keeping yourself and others safe from picking up and spreading harmful bacteria – especially in work and public places. If your hands are visibly dirty then you should wash your hands before using hand sanitiser. However, in the times when this isn’t an option, hand gel can be an effective way to reduce transmission of bacteria and germs that would normally be contaminating items that you touch. When choosing a hand sanitiser look for a bottle with at least a 60%  alcohol concentration, as this is more effective at killing germs than those with a lower concentration, and remember to read the bottles instructions carefully, as your would with any medical application. This is due to some people either not using enough hand sanitiser, as they don’t like having to wait for their hands to dry, or they simply wipe the residue gel away. This reduces the effectiveness of the sanitiser, and therefore does not eliminate the germs on your hands. Typically, you need to use about a palm-full of hand sanitiser to coat both sides of your hands.

How does it work?

Hand gel is effective at killing coronavirus due the active ingredients that is present within the sanitiser. The ethyl alcohol solution corrupts the formation of the proteins of the bacteria and viruses, malforming and destroying the virus ‘shell’ and preventing infections. As mentioned previously, they can not destroy some types of viruses (such as noroviruses) as these viruses do not have an outer layer. Coronaviruses do have this shell and so hand sanitisers are therefore effective (Compound, 2020).

Corona-virus cell with a shell coating the proteins.
(c&en, 2020)
Compared to the Norovirus without a shell, and instead a ‘bloom’ coating.
(Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, 2018)

When hand-washing facilities are not present, the optimal time to use hand sanitiser is straight after sneezing or coughing; touching items in public spaces i.e. door handles, railings, counter tops ect, before and after eating, touching your face and if handling items in a store. When able to do so this should be followed by hand washing with warm water and soap to eliminate any remaining bacteria’s that the hand gel does not remove. (Capritto, 2020)

It is imperative to remember (especially as within the last few weeks Covid-19 cases have begun to climb) to keep ourselves and others safe. The best approach when tackling public situations is to reduce our transmission of bacteria wherever we go. To remember that we have a responsibility for ourselves and others and the best way to take on that responsibility is to remember to wash our hands as frequently and effectively as we can.

  1. Nextgov, 2020. [image] Available at: <https://www.nextgov.com/cio-briefing/2020/03/you-might-be-buying-hand-sanitizer-wont-work-coronavirus/163624/&gt; [Accessed 6 September 2020].
  2. AARP, 2020. Coloured Bottles Of Hand Sanitiser. [image] Available at: <https://www.aarp.org/health/conditions-treatments/info-2020/methanol-hand-sanitizer-recall.html&gt; [Accessed 6 September 2020].
  3. Compound, I., 2020. Coronavirus: How Hand Sanitisers Protect Against Infections. [online] Compound Interest. Available at: <https://www.compoundchem.com/2020/03/04/hand-sanitisers/)> [Accessed 28 August 2020].
  4. c&en, 2020. Coronavirus Cell Structure. [image] Available at: <https://cen.acs.org/biological-chemistry/infectious-disease/novel-coronavirus-hits-China/98/web/2020/01&gt; [Accessed 6 September 2020].
  5. Washington University School of Medicine in St. Louis, 2018. The Norovirus Cell Bloom. [image] Available at: <https://medicine.wustl.edu/news/how-fast-spreading-norovirus-infection-gets-its-start/&gt; [Accessed 6 September 2020].
  6. Capritto, A., 2020. When You Should Use Hand Sanitizer To Avoid Getting Sick. [online] CNET. Available at: <https://www.cnet.com/health/hand-sanitizer-how-it-can-protect-you-from-getting-sick-and-when-to-use-it/&gt; [Accessed 18 August 2020].

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