Medical experts believe that following a basic hygiene practice is the only way to prevent the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19). Initiated from Wuhan, China this virus has spread to dozens of countries infecting more than 1,000,00 people and 3400 deaths. CDC has shared the guidelines to control the spread of coronavirus that include washing hands properly, covering mouth and nose while sneezing and coughing, avoiding public interaction and contact with an infected patient or surface. However, these guidelines need a little more specification.
It is necessary to know that coronavirus (COVID-19) spreads through droplets that travel in the air. The droplets from an infected person’s cough or sneeze can travel to a maximum of six feet on the nearest surface and may live up to many days. The World Health Organization shares that it is possible to get coronavirus infection even by touching these infected surfaces where these respiratory droplets settle.
Paul Biddinger is the director of the Emergency Preparedness Research, Evaluation, and Practice Program at Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health. He says that;
He further adds that; “Good handwashing really matters. If people cough or sneeze into their elbow, that limits the spread of respiratory secretions. What all of us can do together is to follow basic hygiene measures that will actually slow the spread of disease in communities.”
Although the basic hygiene practices seem easy and obvious it is necessary to know that they are effective and important. Washing hands with any germicidal soap with at least 20 seconds reduces the chances of catching any virus from surfaces. Biddinger states that “most people don’t wash their hands very well.” He explains it as;
“As silly as it sounds to go watch a YouTube video on handwashing, people should do it to learn how to do it properly. Washing hands has been clearly proved to decrease disease transmission and lower your chance of getting infected.”
The hand sanitizers are only helpful if they contain 60% or more content of alcohol, confirms the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Also, note that hand sanitizer doesn’t work if a person’s hands are dirty and he needs to wash them anyway.
The importance of washing hands for preventing a disease’s spread is proven by research, for example, a study from 2006 reveals a 16% decrease in respiratory illness by frequently washing hands. Another study from 2008 showed that it contributes to a 21% reduced risk of disease.
The guideline also includes, not to touch face, eyes, and nose after touching any surface or after contact with a person. It is necessary to know that avoiding the face touching helps in controlling the spread as a respiratory virus is much likely to spread through eyes, nose, and mouth maybe. Biddinger says; “We all reflexively touch our face, but trying to be more mindful of touching our face decreases our chance of infection.”
Marc Lipsitch teaches epidemiology at the Harvard Chan School and he is also the director at the Center for Communicable Disease Dynamics. He reinforces the importance of following basic hygiene for controlling the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19) saying;
“Slowing the epidemic is what we have to do if we can’t stop it. All those measures, small as some of them may be, help to slow the epidemic. There is a real coalescence between individually self-protective measures and measures that will benefit the community. Basic hygiene and self-protection measures are in fact socially beneficial.”