As the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold, the same advice is being reported over and over again. Wash your hands, stay home, practice regular hygiene. But why is it so important to stay home? Wash your hands? The answers to these questions are explained by the way the COVID-19 virus spreads between people. Understanding how the virus spreads can help promote and clarify why the measures of social distancing and proper hygiene are urgently critical for people to follow in order to flatten the curve of current infection rate.
Respiratory Droplets Explained
So far, scientists have discovered that similar to the flu, COVID-19 is spread primarily through respiratory droplets. These are small droplets of liquid that are released when someone coughs, sneezes, or speaks. The novel coronaviruses such as COVID-19 can be contained in these droplets and infect other people by entering a person’s eyes, mouth, or nose. These minuscule droplets are often invisible to the naked eye and can land directly on someone’s face or be transferred from an object to a hand and then to a person’s face.
The virus containing droplets can also be present on any solid surface such as a door handle, shopping cart, table, picnic bench, railing, really anywhere someone who has the virus has been close to. These respiratory droplets can be transferred from an object to your hand, and then your contaminated hand will most likely touch your face. Humans are known to touch there face hundreds of times a day without even thinking about it. This is why hand washing and avoiding touching your face are important recommendations for preventing the spread. Better yet, you will limit your own exposure to the virus and reduce the spread by staying home.
Importance of Social Distancing
The respiratory droplets are often too heavy to remain suspended in the air, and therefore it usually requires close person-to-person interaction to transfer the infected water droplets. This is why the US Center for Disease Control and Prevention has recommended that people maintain at least 6 feet, or 2 meters, distance from one another to prevent the transfer.
Importance of Cleaning Surfaces
It is also important to be adamant about cleaning surfaces at this time. An article in the Journal of Hospital Infections reported that the virus can remain active on surfaces for up to 9 days. The good news is, these surfaces can be disinfected with solutions of ethanol and hydrogen peroxide. Therefore, surfaces should be regularly cleaned with appropriate disinfectants to prevent the spread of the virus through objects that may have become contaminated.
Physically distance yourself from people (2 meters).
Wash your hands frequently for at least 20 seconds.
Disinfect surface regularly.
What Is Not Helpful
Buying and wearing medical supplies such as masks and gloves if you are not showing symptoms has not been shown effective during this time. The Government of Canada recently reported: “There is no evidence on the usefulness of face masks worn by healthy or asymptomatic persons as a mitigation measure, therefore it is not recommended.”
The article also goes on to remind the reader that we are currently facing a global shortage of mask supplies, and the demands for health care workers who really need them are not being met. It is encouraged that people consider whether it is appropriate to use a medical mask considering the information described. Read more about the medical supply issue in our article Personal Protective Equipment Supply Needed!
This is a critical time for Canadians and all government recommendations should be taken extremely seriously. Understanding how COVID-19 spreads is important in recognizing the importance of regular hand washing, social distancing and regular cleaning. So please do your part to flatten the curve of the current infection rate and protect our at-risk population.
Stay Safe. Stay Home. We are all in this together!