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How to wash your hands to prevent COVID-19?


As the world is watching cautiously the spread of COVID-19, as well as the mammoth task of containing the outbreak by the health authorities of many countries, we need to revisit the simple yet important habits that could keep us healthy and safe. The COVID-19 is caused by a virus of animal origin, but now the disease is spreading fast due to human-to-human transmission.

If a person gets infected with the Wuhan Virus, he or she will show symptoms similar to the flu. However, an infected person can transmit the virus to others even before the symptoms are visible. Till the time of writing this article, there have been 200 reported cases of COVID-19 in Singapore. Prevention is better than cure, and prevention is also an effective method of containing the spread of the disease. One of the most effective yet often overlooked habits that can save you from potentially life-threatening infections is hand washing.

Yes, a simple and effective hand wash with soap and water can go a long way in keeping you healthy, and reducing the risk of you getting infected with the Wuhan Virus.  If you are wondering whether tap water alone can do the trick, then the answer is no!  When you wash hands your hands with a soap, the surfactants present in it remove soil and microbes from your skin. And of course, you will scrub hands more thoroughly when using soap, which further removes germs.


So When Should You Wash Your Hands?

If you want to keep yourself healthy and not spread germs to the people around you, wash your hands at these key times when your hands are more likely to pick up or spread germs-

  • Before, during, and after preparing food
  • Before eating food
  • Before and after taking care of a sick family member at your home
  • Before and after you treat a wound or cut
  • After using the toilet
  • After you have changed your baby’s diaper or cleaned up your kid who has used the toilet
  • After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
  • After you have touched an animal, animal feed, or animal waste
  • After handling pet food or pet treats
  • After touching garbage



How To Wash Your Hands Effectively?

1)           First of all, wet your hands with clean, running water (warm or cold). Then turn off the tap, and apply soap.

2)           Then lather your hands by rubbing them together with the soap. Lather between your fingers, the backs of your hands, and under your nails. When you lather and scrub your hands, the friction created removes dirt, grease, and microbes from skin.  You must scrub your entire hands as microbes are present on all surfaces of the hand, often in high concentration under the nails.

3)           You must scrub your hands for minimum 20 seconds. The optimal length of time for handwashing varies according to many factors, including the amount of dirt on the hands and the setting of the person washing hands.  For instance, a medical professional has high chances of coming into contact with disease-causing germs and risk spreading serious infections to vulnerable patients, so they may need to wash hands longer than an average office employee. Yet, there is ample evidence suggests that washing hands for about 15-30 seconds removes more germs from hands than washing for shorter periods

4)           Rinse your hands properly with clean, running water. Using standing water to wash your hands could lead to recontamination of your hands, as the water might contain microbes. Hence, running tap water is recommended.

5)           After rinsing, dry your hands with a clean towel or air dry them. It is very easy for germs to get transferred to and from wet hands. So remember to dry them after washing.

In case washing hands frequently is not possible for you, then carry a hand sanitizer with more than 60 per cent alcohol content to protect yourself from the Wuhan virus.


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