• wash your hands

    COVID-19 (coronavirus): hygiene tips (1)

    Over the last weeks, I have been listening to concerns, studying research papers and of course taking note of Government advice about what to do in this current crisis. Here is some practical tips which I have put together following numerous phone-ins on the radio. I have tried to come up with simple suggestions and practical tips. Many of my friends and family have also been asking me for advice as well, so that has all been put into the mix.

    I am trying to keep up with comments and questions, and apologise if it is not always very timely – it’s just me managing this site!

    We can’t achieve zero risk, but we can do our best to crack this!

    This is the first in the series of tips.

    Q. Government advice on self-isolating or social distancing – what is the difference?

    Staying at Home or Self Isolation is where you or a member of your household has symptoms of coronavirus, namely a high temperature and a new cough and need to stay at home. Staying at home doesn’t mean staying indoors – if you have a private garden, then you can go there. You just need to be away from others.

    If you live in a household with others, you need to keep away from them as much as possible, staying in your bedroom, for example, and using your own bathroom if that is possible, and if not, use the bathroom last, and disinfect after use.

    At time of writing, guidance is that those with the illness need to stay at home for 7 days, and those in the household need to stay at home for 14 days. If a previously well member of the household becomes ill, they need to stay at home for 7 days from the day of onset of illness. There is a diagram to explain.

    More tips on hygiene in this situation to follow.

    Social distancing actually applies to us all, not just to the vulnerable and this is all about keeping away from others and increasing hygiene measures to protect others as well as ourselves from the coronavirus.

    All this may be a bit of an effort, but we’ve got to do what we can to flatten that epidemic curve. Even if we don’t think we are personally at much risk of being seriously ill if we get the disease – we could pass it on to others who are more vulnerable whilst we are in the “incubation” phase – in other words, we are infected but not yet showing symptoms. 

    Q: What’s The Journey of the Germ?

    The virus could infect us either directly from someone being near us and spraying us with droplets, or indirectly if the droplets either get transferred from their hands to our hands or onto surfaces, and are then transferred to our hands. Our dirty hands are a danger to us if we put them in our eyes, nose or mouth.

    However, we also need to think that our hands could transmit the virus to others through hand shaking or touching surfaces. So keeping hands clean is a good plan, and most people are now not shaking hands, but using other ways to say hello such as elbow bumping.

    Q: What if I have no hand sanitiser?

    Although high alcohol sanitiser (over 62%) is a good alternative to hand washing on the go, if you haven’t got any, don’t panic! The thing to do is to think about the journey of the germ and how you can stop it. Make sure you keep your hands out of your eyes, nose and mouth unless they are clean enough! It is hard, but keep trying.

    If you are at home then you don’t need to use sanitiser unless you can’t get to a wash basin easily, for example if you are infirm.

    If you are ill in bed, and need to get to the toilet, then sanitiser applied before you go to the loo means that you won’t contaminate surfaces on the way. This helps to protect others in the household from picking the virus up on your hands. If you don’t have sanitiser, try not to touch surfaces on the way to the toilet, and disinfect anything you have touched.

    So for most of us, the best we can do is to use the wash basin and soap, water for 20s and wash your hands thoroughly. Make sure you wash your hands at key times:

    • When you arrive home, take your coat and shoes off and then wash your hands before touching anything else. I have a sticky note by the door to remind everyone
    • When you leave the house (stops spreading illness)
    • After using the toilet
    • After using a tissue
    • Before preparing ready-to-eat food or eating with your fingers
    • After preparing raw foods
    • When you arrive at work
    • After taking care of anyone who is sick, or handling their laundry, or cleaning up

    Q. Do I need to wear a face mask?

    Current advice is that there is no need for a mask unless you are in a situation where it is deemed necessary, for example medical personnel. If there is any reason for you to need a face mask to protect others, then you will be advised by a health professional. This may change, and no doubt we will be advised accordingly.

    This information is written in good faith based on current advice, and will be updated as is possible. The author does not take any responsibility for how the advice is applied. Answers to individual questions may take a while.

    More tips to come soon!


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  • Anne Marie says:Reply
    29th March 2020 at 9:45 am

    You gave some fantastic advice on groceries on radio 4 which I can’t seem to find anywhere…
    Thank you!

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 1:33 pm

      Hi Anne Marie, I will be adding to the blogs, but now most people are getting deliveries one way or another, so most of the information is there, if you want to check it out! Keep safe, Lisa

  • Susan Stanley-Carroll says:Reply
    29th March 2020 at 9:56 am

    Point of View – heard illuminating tips on shopping and COVD-19 – need to know more – over 80.

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 1:46 pm

      Hi best thing to do is to stay at home and try to get someone to do the shopping for you and follow my deliveries tips blog – will be updating. There are many local community groups that will help you. all the best and keep safe, Lisa

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 7:13 pm

      will be posting soon on shopping, but that should be a thing of the past for many if you can get shops to deliver to you. Many local shops are delivering if you phone them up. The best thing you can do is to avoid going out if you can. All the best and keep safe.

  • Jeff Travers says:Reply
    29th March 2020 at 10:02 am

    Your advice about masks is highly questionable in the current circumstances. It is obvious that a mask prevents direct droplet transmission to the nose and mouth area. Particularly some people are project their verbal communications more than others … and in conversation one party may be breathing in while the other may be expelling air and droplets while speaking… and both parties mouths can be open at the same time. Also in conversation often some people step forward to communicate subconsciously. Although even the correct masks have limitations (eg edge sealing and fit to face). … they must provide useful barrier…. so advising people (as you are) that it is not worth bothering with masks lacks common sense. I note that in China masks and eye protection outside the home were considered sensible.
    I also suggest that a receptacle full of soapy water should be positioned outside every front door and replenished daily… as a preliminary hand wash.

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 1:42 pm

      Hi Jeff, thanks for your comments. I am following government advice on the masks at the moment. There are two problems: one the NHS need all the masks they can get as they are most at risk. Health care professionals are still struggling to get them, and they must have priority. If we stay at home, we don’t need them, unless dealing with someone who is sick at home. Second problem, if you watch people on wearing them, they are not putting them on properly, having them dangling around their chins etc, which is no use to anyone. Best at the moment to keep at home if at all possible and social distance. Things may change if we have a glut of masks and know how to use them. I agree soapy water outside the door could be a good idea, although I think I would rather go inside, wash my hands immediately, and give the door knob a squirt of disinfectant. Hope you keep well, Lisa

  • J Emmersdon says:Reply
    29th March 2020 at 10:25 am

    Any chance of using a BLACK font which would be much easier to read?

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 1:42 pm

      working on it!

  • Catherine longson says:Reply
    29th March 2020 at 10:27 am

    My daughter is in an at risk group. We are shielding her and practicing extreme social distancing. We made the decision this week to ask for help from our church with shopping. My questions is, her boyfriend is now experiencing CV symptoms, if he has had it (and gets a test that shows he has) can he visit her before the 12 week period has ended?

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 1:45 pm

      Hi I am sorry that you are having such a difficult time. I think that is a question for a health care professional. The trouble is that even if he is clear, he could still carry the virus into the house on his hands and other items, so you have to be very careful indeed. all the very best, Lisa

  • Fred says:Reply
    29th March 2020 at 11:33 am

    Excellent information but difficult to read. Could you please use heavier print.

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 12:35 pm

      Will try! I didn’t do the design and am scared to mess around with it myself in case I break it – IT people are overloaded!

  • teddy graham says:Reply
    29th March 2020 at 11:35 am

    My daughter who lives alone has asked if she can take our dog for a walk.
    Can the virus live on the dog’s fur and if so for how long?
    What precautions should I ask my daughter to take when she brings the dog home.

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 12:30 pm

      Hi I would give the lead to your daughter so she keeps that and you don’t have to handle it. Noone knows about the dog’s fur at the moment, but ask her not to let anyone pet your dog (she should keep 2m away anyway from people anyway). If she is free of symptoms and has not been in contact with others for over 14 days, then that also reduces the risk of her passing the virus on to you. When she takes the dog, she should ring the bell, step back and then let the dog come to her to have the lead put on. Then on return she can reverse the procedure – ring the bell, step back with the dog and then you open the door, she undoes the lead and the dog runs in. Obviously adapt according to whether you are on a busy road or the dog is disobedient! Hope that makes sense, and that you keep safe.

  • Ros Aitchison says:Reply
    29th March 2020 at 3:23 pm

    Please can you change the light grey text colour so it’s easier to read for those with sight problems. Thanks

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      29th March 2020 at 7:11 pm

      Hi I have done my best to do this, some bullet points are still proving to be tricky, and I have asked an IT person to help!

  • Bob Gunn says:Reply
    30th March 2020 at 4:53 pm

    I’m running a village help group during the crisis and this blog will be very useful.
    Are you willing to receive questions via this comment box?

  • Yvonne Clark says:Reply
    1st April 2020 at 12:20 pm

    Would wearing plastic gloves to pick up delivered groceries then leaving them for 72 hours before reusing them be viable
    or one could wash them like a hand wash or sanitiser gel and then leave for 72 hours. yvonneclark1@btinternet.com

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      2nd April 2020 at 4:10 pm

      Hi Yvonne, yes you could do that, but make sure when you taken them off you wash your hands just in case you contaminate hands when taking them off. If you look at the shopping tips (10) then you will see I have ea link on how to take gloves off carefully (disposable). You could wash them, but may not get in all the nooks and crannies so easily, so maybe just leave them somewhere safe for 72 hours as you suggest and then they can be your “shopping bag” gloves next time. keep safe, and thanks for the question, Lisa

  • Michael M. says:Reply
    6th April 2020 at 8:59 am

    I just wanted a quick query answered if you don’t mind please?
    Almost everyone finds it very hard to not touch your face, which is of course especially important while out, but yesterday I was out for some time shopping. I had such a itch on my moustache area that, in the end, I rubbed the back of my knuckle just in that area.
    I did not touch my nose, mouth or eyes. I deliberately did not use my fingertips due to the risk, even though it wasn’t any of the three ‘danger’ areas.
    I just want to be clear that what I did was an advisable action given the circumstances?
    Thank you.

    • Dr Lisa Ackerley says:Reply
      16th April 2020 at 6:41 pm

      Hi I think you will be fine, as the knuckle is unlikely to be contaminated, but it pays to take a tissue or hand sanitiser (if you can get it) with you just in case. Kind regards, Lisa