New cases of COVID-19 are beginning to climb in Canada once more, prompting health officials to urge Canadians to maintain physical distancing, wear masks when in public, and wash their hands frequently.
If practiced consistently, this could slow the spread of the virus and potentially save lives.
It sounds simple enough, but according to a recent report from the U.S. Center for Disease Control(CDC) 1 in 4 people aren't washing their hands when they should be, such as after blowing their nose.
And while the findings are U.S.-based, statistics from Canada aren't promising. A 2014 audit conducted by the Canadian Patient Safety Institute, for example, found only about 78 per cent of health-care workers cleaned their hands.
According to the BC Centre for Disease Control, about 80 per cent of common infections spread by hand -- and that was before the pandemic.
According to the recent CDC survey, respondents in June 2020 said they were more likely to remember to wash their hands after experiencing respiratory symptoms or before eating at home or in a restaurant when compared to survey responses collected in October 2019.
In both 2019 and 2020, 95 per cent of respondents said they remembered to wash their hands after using a public bathroom, and around 85 per cent did the same when using the bathroom at home. About 86 per cent of respondents said they remember to wash their hands before preparing food, a revelation that was consistent in both years.
And more people are washing their hands before eating at home (74 per cent in 2020 compared to 63 per cent in 2019) and after coughing, sneezing, or blowing their nose, (71 per cent in 2020 compared to 53 per cent in 2019) the findings suggest there is still significant room for improvement.
File photo courtesy: Pexels/Burst.
STICK TO SOAP AND WATER
When it comes to fighting germs experts recommend washing hands with soap and water.
While there is research suggesting hand sanitizer is an effective way to kill germs, that may not hold up in real-life situations.
That's because most people don't use enough sanitizer for it to be effective, or they accidentally wipe it off before it has dried.
And unlike soap, sanitizers may be less effective on dirty or greasy hands, the CDC says.
Reduce your risk of exposure to respiratory diseases, like #COVID19: wash hands often w/ soap & water for at least 20 seconds. If soap & water aren’t available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol. https://t.co/qbIZmiuPwQ #SuperTuesday pic.twitter.com/8cuxXGeF3I— CDC (@CDCgov) March 3, 2020
VIDEO: THIS SIMPLE EXPERIMENT DEMONSTRATES HOW SOAP WORKS
OK, BUT WHAT KIND OF SOAP?
According to the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) in the U.S., regular soap works just fine.
In May 2019, the government body said the benefits of using antibacterial hand soap "haven't been proven" and made the move to ban triclosan and triclocarban, two common antibacterial ingredients, in consumer products. The FDA argues manufactures haven't proven the ingredients are safe for long-term use, but triclosan may still be found in Canadian products.
“Following simple handwashing practices is one of the most effective ways to prevent the spread of many types of infection and illness at home, at school and elsewhere,” Theresa M. Michele, MD, of the FDA’s Division of Nonprescription Drug Products, said in a statement.
“We can’t advise this enough. It’s simple, and it works.”