Hygiene

The virus is caught through the mouth, nose and eyes so ensuring that hands are always as clean as possible and avoiding touching the eyes, nose and mouth ensuring that hygiene of a high standard will help minimise the risk of catching SARS COV-2.

According to the UK NHS, you should follow these rules:

  • wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds

  • use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available

  • wash your hands as soon as you get home

  • cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze

  • put used tissues in the bin immediately and wash your hands afterwards

  • if you can, wear something that covers your nose and mouth when it's hard to stay away from people, such as on public transport.

A hand sanitiser, should have over 60% alcohol content, as they are much more effective than low or no alcohol sanitisers. Most hand sanitisers do contain anywhere from 60% to 95% isopropyl or ethyl alcohol mixed with water and gels like glycol and glycerin in order to prevent drying out users’ skin. The alcohol in the sanitiser destroys the protein envelope surrounding the virus, and without this, the virus cannot 'survive' or replicate.

 

However, washing with warm water and soap is even more effective than using hand sanitiser. Soap works by breaking down fats, and this is no exception in coronaviruses; the soap breaks down the lipid bilayer, which causes the virus to essentially fall apart and be rendered useless.

The virus will remain on surfaces for different periods of time. A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed that plastic is the surface that it remains viable on for the longest - up to 72 hours. On stainless steel the virus was detected up to 48 hours. For cardboard it was 24 hours and for copper 4 hours.  These times will vary in real world conditions as factors such as temperature, humidity, UV light, ventilation and volume of virus will all make a difference.

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