Working from home, I have heard nothing but people coughing out on the street below out for walks. Young, old, tiny tots, also in the block of flats. A little alarming that people who cannot claim to not know the signs and symptoms by now just going about their normal business outside. I am mindful that I am sneezing a lot day and night as I suffer from hay-fever and have run out of medication which is not helping! Alcohol gel at the ready, I am constantly gelling/hand-washing/hand creaming to stem the spread of anything.

It has made me think of many conversations that I have had with friends, Twitter and Facebook friends about the use of gloves when shopping etc. I have also taught as an infection control nurse that gloves are not an armour. Whilst people put them on and think they can go into a supermarket and be totally protected is not accurate. What many people do not think about is the fabric of gloves which allows the bugs to stick to them and then they pass them all around. Regular cleaning is important, but you need to let things air dry so that the cleaning agent has the contact time with the surface to be effective. If your hands are dirty, you put gloves on for ordinary tasks the bugs will have a lovely greenhouse effect under the gloves, the gloves help pick up bacteria and spread it around and then you remove them and the bugs are still on your hands. Far better to have hand wipes or sanitiser with you if you cannot wash hands, to try and protect yourself. Gloves have a place in medical type settings where staff know how to use them appropriately and in the right situation. Latex gloves can also be deadly to those with latex allergies if you have touched a surface with them on and if we all panic buy gloves it leaves little stock for people that really need it. This link is useful to visualise how hands can cross contaminate from one place to another –

Its funny that I have spent a life time teaching people what PPE is, stands for and the importance of it, along with hand-washing. Now everyone has it quoted day and night and I would like to think everyone will still continue to think about it after all this passes. Basic hand hygiene is vital to all of us at all times, consider everything as potentially infected, rather than wait to get an infection, this goes for food hygiene, preventing tummy upsets and the like as well as reducing the risk of flu and viruses. Our great pioneers such as Florence Nightingale must be banging her petite head against the wall as she said “Every nurse ought to be careful to wash her hands very frequently during the day. If her face, too, so much the better.” – and not just nurses, all of us. Ignaz Semmelweiss in 1850 implored people to simply “Wash your hands” A pity we are still having to bang on about this today! If we could visualise the bugs we would think about it a lot more and often toilet areas can be cleaner than bedside tables, trays and commonly used touch points where bugs hide. Important to remember they are far more clever than us and we have to work hard to keep them at bay.