by Heather

April 10, 2020

Coronavirus Infection Prevention and Control - Government Advice

During the current Coronavirus outbreak, huge efforts are being made to treat those affected and to limit its spread. Drastic measures have now been put in place to reduce transmission and the government has issued very clear instructions to all.

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Government Advice

1. Stay at Home.

Only go outside for the following, very limited purposes:

  • To get food for yourself or others who are unable to get it for themselves
  • For health reasons (essential visits to GPs, pharmacists, providing care to vulnerable people etc)
  • For work (but only if you can't work from home)
  • For exercise, once a day (either alone or with members of your household only)

2. Observe Social Distancing

If you do have to go out, keep at least 2 metres (6 ft) from anyone who is not in your household, at all times.

3. Wash Your Hands

Wash your hands regularly with soap and water, for at least 20 seconds each time to reduce the risk of getting and passing on the infection. If you've been out, you should wash your hands as soon as you get home, and don't touch your face unless you're sure your hands are clean.

4. Coughing & Sneezing

Make sure you cover your mouth and nose with a tissue when you cough or sneeze, and put used tissues in the bin (not the recycling bin) immediately and wash your hands.

Useful Links

The Government have some really useful resources which are kept constantly up-to-date. Take a look at the following external links for the latest advice:

The Importance of Hand Washing

Washing hands thoroughly is key to reducing the spread of this virus. The virus itself is a respiratory virus and is spread through droplet transmission via coughing and sneezing.

Up to 3000 Droplets from a single cough can spread up to 2-3 metres away, possibly further before falling to the ground. Therefore, it so important to cough into tissues or a flexed elbow and to dispose of tissues safely.

Otherwise the virus lands on surfaces and from there it is easy to pick up on hands and transmit to other surfaces.

There is also some evidence that it can be shed in faecal matter which is why it is more important than ever to thoroughly wash hands after using the toilet. Additionally, it is thought that the virus can stay on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours on shiny surfaces such as stainless steel for up to 72 hours, hence the need for cleaning thoroughly.

How does soap work on Covid-19?

Hand washing to reduce the spread of Coronavirus

The COVID-19 Virus is a bit of genetic code bundled up with bits of protein and wrapped in a fatty envelope which can be penetrated by dish soap. The molecules sit on our skin but can’t penetrate through the skin because skin surface is slightly acidic. However, it can get into the body via mucous membranes which is why we are advised not to touch our faces so frequently.

Research in 2015 found that people touch their faces on average 23 times an hour and so could transmit the virus very easily via mouths, eyes or noses. Washing hands frequently cleans off the virus.

Humble soap and hot water works by dissolving the fatty layer around the virus and effectively tearing the virus apart. The soap molecules then trap the virus and we wash it away with water. However, it takes 20 seconds for the soap to effectively penetrate through the virus which is why we wash our hands for 20 seconds (the time it takes to sing happy birthday twice).

Use of Alcohol Gel

If soap and water isn’t available, then alcohol is effective at killing the virus.

The alcohol needs to be at the right concentration, it needs to be at least 60% to do the job and it works in a similar way to soap.

However, it may be less effective if your hands are sweaty or visibly dirty. If you are using alcohol-based hand sanitiser then the method for applying it should be the same as for handwashing.

Effective Hand Washing

We're told it takes around 20 seconds to wash your hands effectively. If you find you're not taking as long as that, perhaps you're not washing them as thoroughly as you could be. If that sounds like you, make sure you're getting every part of your hands clean by following the below illustrations.

Steps to handwashing

About the author 

Heather

Heather is co-owner and Director of Training of HTS Training Ltd - the specialist first aid training providers. She has been a registered nurse for over 25 years, and has been training first aid commercially for more than 15 years.

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