Keeping the environment you live, work or spend time in often clean is important at any time, but in times of worldwide viral infections, it is crucial. With the rapid spread of COVID-19, commonly known as Coronavirus, governments and healthcare experts are advising all citizens – not just the vulnerable – to take extra precautions with their personal hygiene to reduce risk of contamination and spread of the virus. With supermarkets, chemists and healthcare stores finding their hand sanitiser shelves bare, we discuss whether the anti-bacterial hand gels actually offer protection from the virus and what you should be doing to protect yourself best.
How To Protect Yourself
Our hands are irrefutably our most used tools and come into contact with an overwhelming amount of surfaces throughout the day. Door handles, keyboards, stair rails, the transfer of common germs is almost impossible to avoid in day to day life. With the accessibility and ease of hand sanitisers, it is understandable why people are ransacking the shelves and stocking up. But can these tiny bottles of alcohol solution really protect us from Coronavirus? Well, Dr Andrew Kemp PHD, Head of BICSc Scientific Advisory Board, notes that “we do not know if any hand sanitisers or disinfectants have actually been tested against COVID-19”. Therefore, there is no proof of them working as protection from viral infection. So what should we be using? As is being recommended by the NHS, soap and water is the best way to keep your hands decontaminated. It does not matter what kind of soap you use, and disinfectants such as anti-bacterial soap will offer no extra protection in decontamination.
What About Surfaces?
While keeping your hands clean is a crucial step to protecting yourself from the contamination of germs, germs can also sit and harbour on surfaces you interact with daily. Desks, computer mice, kitchen counters, fridge handles, the list is endless. Similar to hand sanitisers, Dr Andrew Kemp reports that there have been no investigations into whether common disinfectant surface wipes and sprays have any effect in protecting from Coronavirus. Therefore, he recommends deep contamination with detergents, then, dependent on the room, potentially steam. He claims “All surface cleaning should be done in 2 stages, decontamination with a detergent/surfactant followed by standard disinfection with whatever you are using now. Use a hypochlorite or peroxide at the manufacturers recommended concentration.”
Use Your Natural Defences
With viral infections such as COVID-19, the best way to protect yourself from infection is to keep your hands clean with soap and water, clean all surfaces you are in regular contact with and most importantly, keep your immune system in peak condition. A healthy diet and regular exercise is the best way to keep your immune system working efficiently and do its job to protect you from germs.