Stay informed! Visit the SA Department of Health's website for COVID-19 updates: www.sacoronavirus.co.za.

Fighting viruses: 3 good personal hygiene practices

Three simple things you can start doing today to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus.

Updated

woman washing hands

Three simple things you can do today to help prevent the spread of the coronavirus

With the number of people testing positive for the coronavirus on the rise, many South Africans might feel like losing hope over containing the pandemic.

But there’s definitely a way to prevent the virus from spreading and to protect yourself against the virus.

Health experts have revealed that the most effective way to prevent coronavirus is a few basic personal hygiene practices we usually follow during the cold and flu season.

1. Personal hygiene: wash – and dry – your hands properly

Regular soap is a highly effective way to kill a virus that is on your skin. This is because soap works by breaking down germ-carrying bacteria on your hands disinfectant products can’t.

Ensure you and your family are washing your hands thoroughly. It might feel silly to read a blog or watch a video on handwashing best practices, but it might surprise you if to discover a few key steps you could be missing. The Western Cape Government recommends singing a song, especially to little kids, as a great way to teach them how long to wash their hands. Sing “happy birthday” twice to reach about 20 seconds or sing the ABCs.

Drying your hands properly is equally important, as damp and moist environment act as a breeding ground for germs. Experts have revealed that the most hygienic way to dry your hands at home is with a regular towel (just ensure you wash it every few days if used daily). Use paper towels if you are in a public space. You can also use a paper towel to close the tap or open the door to eliminate the possibility of re-contaminating your hands.

2. How to protect yourself from the coronavirus: stop touching your face

Germs can enter the body through the nose, eyes, and mouth, so avoid touching your face as much as possible. This may be harder than it sounds – a 2015 study revealed that people touch their face about 23 times in an hour.

The coronavirus can last for hours or even days on surfaces. The chances of you touching a commonly used surface that could be infected (think door handles, handrails, and counter tops) and then touching your face is high. Therefore, always ensure you wash your hands after touching surfaces and that you carry a hand sanitiser of at least 60 per cent alcohol if soap and water are not available.

Although social distancing has been encouraged by our President, if you really must be around people, consider wearing gloves. But be wary of touching your face even with the gloves on! Get your friends or family members to help you try to break face-touching habits you may have or try and be more mindful about where you tend to touch your face all the time.

3. Coronavirus prevention when out and about: be respectful and responsible

Again, staying indoors is strongly encouraged during this time, but if you need to leave the house for whatever reason, ensure you take note of specific personal hygiene practices to prevent the virus from spreading further. Do not shake hands – instead, greet with your elbow touching the other person’s. Yes, even a fist bump is not recommended. Keep a healthy distance between you and others, and if you have to sneeze or cough, do so into a tissue or the inside of your arm.

Avoid using public transport wherever possible. Try to stay clear from busy spaces and remember to remove your shoes and wash your hands for at least 20 seconds as soon as you get home.

Originally published