Now that we have to live with this virus, there is dire need to think differently in order to keep it at bay. Covid-19 is posing major challenges to governments, health administrators and policy makers because of its uniqueness and scanty information (because of its novel nature). WHO has warned general public at many occasions not to take this emerging viral disease lightly, and advised world to adhere SOPs, approved by recognized national & international health agencies. There is general consensus among medical practitioners and researchers that public need to take precautions to prevent spread of this highly contagious diseases which seems quite reasonable as scientific community is still struggling to find effective drug or vaccine having maximum potency against Covid-19. Therefore, it is essential for all of us to understand its severity and take certain precautions seriously. Among the general precautions, maintaining hand hygiene is considered to be one of the major preventive measure to reduce the spread of Corona virus among the human community. So, it is essential to sensitise general public about hand hygiene and it’s important for preventing spread of contagious disease.
The primary reason for ‘hand-disease’ link is that most of us have natural tendency to touch faces quite often. Many studies have shown that people touch their faces more than 20 times per hour that could easily transmit microorganisms into our body via moth, eyes, eyes and ears. As per British Psychologist, Natasha Tiwari, face touching is program in our DNA and we are evolved for it. She further argues that even human feotus in uterus touch their faces. Furthermore, there is psychology related to ‘hand-face touch’ behavior as humans touch pressure points when they find themselves in a stressful conditions and in the process they activate their parasympathetic nervous system.
It has been observed that infection rate of corona increases manifold through hand route due to exposure of hands to surfaces exposed to virus. Simple advice can be given to avoid hand contact with your face, but it is not so easy to avoid natural tendency to touch your face. It is wise to keep your hand hygiene better if you are unable to avoid this natural tendency to scratch your face too often. One of the best suggestion to avoid natural tendency is to avoid face touching behavior, keep hands busy in other activities and hold them back when you are about to touch your face.
Most effective way to avoid hand-face contact is to wash your hands frequently which can help you to prevent the spread of disease. It has been estimated previously that hand-washing could reduce the outbreak of disease transmission by 22%. Recent study in United Kingdom suggest that heavy hand washing could reduce outbreak of infectious diseases especially flu like viruses by 25% that is quite significant in the current scenario when the Word is unable to provide effective vaccine and drug against corona virus. In another study published in Lancet (2015), researchers found that regular washing reduced general infection by 14% and flu by 20% and concluded that washing of hands 10 times could effective tool to prevent onset of bugs and infections
However, there are also millions of people across the globe who take hand washing lightly and are at greater risk for the exposure of viral infections. As per estimates of WHO and UNICEF more than three billion are unable to wash their hands due to inadequate facility and non-availability of soap. Even in highly developed nations, the conditions is not different as 50% of population don’t take hand washing seriously. Experts on health and hygiene believe that proper hand-washing culture in different countries can contain the spread of Covid-19 pandemic.
Following measures are recommended to encourage better hand-hygiene in community:
- Promoting the routine hand hygiene as a better preventive measure because it is cost-effective and had public health benefits too. Both government and public initiatives are to be taken to implement the course of action
- Community & religious leaders need to sensitize public regarding hand hygiene
- Online programmes including seminars, discussion and talk shows should be initiated at school, college and university level for encouraging people to wash their hands more frequently which could reduce the risk of catching and passing on infections. Social media including, Facebook, Twitter & WhatsApp could play a pivotal role in this regard.
In short, it is important for all of us to take all preventive measures seriously which have been recommended by WHO. Among other measure, maintaining better hand hygiene is highly recommended to fight against Covid-19 until researchers are able to find effective alternative against this deadly disease. It will not only help you to keep your family safe against Corona virus, but will also enhance personal hygiene to combat with other diseases. Let us hope for Covid-19 free world as hope is the beacon that leads to property.
Dr. Ummer Rashid Zargar is Assistant Professor, Department of Zoology, Govt. Degree College Anantnag,