As Miss World 2017, and even later in life, I would like to take health and hygiene to everybody: Manushi Chhillar (medical doctor and Ms. World)
The rapid spread of contagious Covid-19 corona virus infection across the globe is a game changer for our lifestyle, social life and commercial activity. We will never know normal life as we are used to – perhaps again in the near future. There will be new normals’ and for all we know, social distancing and hand hygiene will be a part of our new lifestyle for quite some time to come, may be up to a year definitely, the hangover of Covid-19 will be there even after lockdown is gradually removed in future.
Game changer: Hand hygiene habit
Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, USA has defined hand hygiene as a way of cleaning one’s hands that substantially reduces potential pathogens or disease causing microbes on the hands. Now why is hand hygiene emphasized to such an extent? This is related to a concept called as face touching. There are limited studies on face touching habit. This reference https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/25637115/ states that the students in the study group touched their face 23 times an hour. Other observational studies state we touch our face by habit about 16 times an hour.It is this face touching habit that transmits disease causing bacteria and viruses to the nose, eyes and lips/mouth. The entry of such disease causing agents into the nose and mouth, causes infecting agents to enter the respiratory system and later into the lungs. The intimate hand shaking habit transfers such bacteria and virus from people to people and ends up in transmission of diseases. Hence, hand hygiene has a special place in management of communicable or contagious diseases.
WHO and hand hygiene:
World Health Organization (WHO) has understood the great importance of hand hygiene and is dedicated to the cause of ensuring this habit is well entrenched in medical sector and among general public. Hence, conscious people carry sanitizers in pockets and use them every now and then. Further, contact areas like door knobs and door handles that hold many viruses and bacteria are cleaned frequently with alcohol wipes. At this juncture it is important to review this report:
‘The virus that causes COVID-19 remains for several hours to days on surfaces and in aerosols, a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found. The study suggests that people may acquire the corona virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects. Scientists discovered the virus is detectable for up to three hours in aerosols, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel’.
The other danger from Covid-19 is the fact that as per this WHO document: https://www.who.int/docs/default-source/coronaviruse/getting-workplace-ready-for-covid-19.pdf – when a Covid-19 infected person coughs or exhales, droplets of infected fluid are released which are released into the air and also deposit on contact surfaces.
The WHO has a global campaign called Save lives: Clean Your Hands to highlight the importance of hand hygiene among healthcare workers. It is wise if general public in today’s times of corona virus pandemic to stick to hand hygiene habits.
How does hand hygiene help?
The corona virus or other viruses have a protective outer layer of fats and proteins. When the hand is washed with plain water, it runs over the viruses since water and fats do not mix. The viruses on hands are not washed away with water alone. However, when soap is used, there is a surfactant action, where soap molecules bond with the fatty portions of the virus coat, and this breaks the virus to bits and pieces. However, the contact time between hands and soap water washing should be minimum 20 seconds. Otherwise the wash is not completely effective.
When water is not available or for faster removal of bacteria and viruses from the hand, alcohol minimum 60% or other disinfectant based hand sanitizers are used. When the sanitizeris used the antiseptic substance including alcohol disrupts the structure of virus instantly, however, it is important to rub the antiseptic solution well on both sides of the hand and in between fingers. It dries instantly, no need to use water.
For medical workers in particular, the WHO has a ‘My 5 moments for Hand Hygiene’ campaign:
- before touching a patient,
- before clean/aseptic procedures,
- after body fluid exposure/risk,
- after touching a patient, and.
- after touching patient surroundings.
Hand hygiene is a game changer to prevent transmission of Covid-19 infection, the WHO method of hand hygiene is as follows:
- Rub hands for hand hygiene, wash hands when visibly soiled
- Apply a palmful of the product in a cupped hand, covering all surfaces
- Rub hands palm to palm
- Rub right palm over the left back of the hand (dorsum) with interlaced fingers and vice versa
- Continue palm to palm with fingers interlaced
- Rub backs of fingers to opposing palms with fingers interlocked
- Rotational rubbing of left thumb clasped in right palm and vice versa
- Rotational rubbing, backwards and forwards with clasped fingers of right hand in left palm and vice versa
- After drying the hands will be safe
The Covid-19 coronavirus infection has put the focus back on basic hygiene practices such as hand hygiene. Similarly, social distancing, lockdown, and use of appropriate face/mouth mask are protective measures from this dreaded animal origin virus. www.globalhandwashing.org has comprehensively studied, documented and is meticulously propagating the good habit of hand hygiene.
Sunil S Chiplunkar M Pharm (Pharmacology) MBA (Marketing) PGDHRM
VP – Business Development, Group Pharmaceuticals, Bangalore
Email: 1969sunilchiplunkar@gmailcom Ph.: 6364578669