- 10 Aug 2020
As Victoria experiences a second lockdown, we want to make sure we’re doing what we can to share relevant, important information from credible sources. These 6 things are really important right now.
We believe staying informed and aware is important, especially during unsettling times.
As Victoria enters a second lockdown support from across the country is so important.
It is just as important to remember that so quickly, other States could follow suit.
Remaining vigilant matters.
Making changes to personal hygiene and keeping our homes clean look can help break the chain of transmission when it comes to viral infection.
With this in mind, here are 6 important things to remember when it comes to your home and your health right now.
1. Handwashing is more effective than sanitisers
We know it’s not always possible, but handwashing with soap and water is the cheapest and most effective form of infection control.
So much so, that research carried out by MIT suggests that increased handwashing at just 10 airports in the US would reduce the spread of the coronavirus by 60%.
The Australian Department of Health (DOH) and US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommend thorough handwashing (for at least 20 seconds) over hand sanitiser to help protect yourself and others from the spread of infection.
Why is handwashing preferable? It’s simply more effective overall.
According to the CDC, handwashing reduces the amounts of all types of germs, whereas sanitisers eliminate some, but not all types of germs.
If used correctly, alcohol-based sanitisers can inactivate many microbes, however, many people don’t use enough sanitiser or accidentally wipe it off before it has dried.
If you’re unable to access water and hand soap, a sanitiser is a good alternative.
Make sure the sanitiser is at least 60% alcohol-based, read the label and apply the recommended amount. Keep rubbing your hands together until they are completely dry.
When should you be washing your hands and sanitising?
The DOH recommends thorough handwashing whenever you cough, sneeze or blow your nose, whenever you touch your face, prepare food, use the bathroom or care for someone sick.
2. Disinfecting and sanitising won’t work on a dirty surface
We recently discussed the difference between cleaning, sanitising and disinfecting.
A really important point: sanitising and disinfecting is ineffective if the surface hasn’t been cleaned.
Cleaning is a key step to sanitise and disinfect effectively that most people ignore, even though studies show that chemicals like bleach becomes deactivated upon contact with organic material.
If someone in your home is unwell and you’re sanitising or disinfecting to stop the spread of infection, it’s important to remember the following things.
Thoroughly clean and dry the surface you want to sanitise or disinfect.
Sanitising and disinfecting involves strong chemicals like bleach that can be dangerous and have health implications. Make sure the area you're disinfecting is well ventilated and you wear suitable protective wear.
Never mix different chemicals and follow instructions carefully. The wrong dilution or insufficient surface contact time can make the process ineffective.
3. If you go out in Victoria, wear a mask
The official advice about face masks was conflicting in the early days of the outbreak.
However, in places where community transmission is likely, the CDC and WHO recommend wearing a mask in a public setting.
The Australian Government Department of Health announced mask wearing is mandatory when you leave home in the state of Victoria as of 2 August 2020.
How do face masks work?
We know that the coronavirus is primarily transmitted person-to-person via respiratory spray.
Wearing a mask is a measure of source control.
Masks have been shown to help prevent respiratory droplets travelling into the air in laboratory studies.
It prevents people who may be carrying the virus from spreading it by creating a very simple barrier. However, scientists believe there are also benefits to wearing a mask if you don't have COVID-19.
How effective are masks?
According to lung.org, the gold standard N-95 mask is 95% effective at keeping the wearer free of inhaling viral particles.
These masks are reserved for front line workers, people in high-risk settings where they know they are coming into contact with the virus.
Cloth face masks are less effective. However, even a 50% reduction in viral transmission is extremely important.
Essentially, wearing a mask shows respect for other people and helps prevent transmission. The more people wearing masks, the more effective mask-wearing will be.
We think it’s important to note that the CDC states that masks should not be worn by children younger than 2 or anyone who has trouble breathing.
4. Target high-touch surfaces with your cleaning routine
We understand that the thought of continually cleaning your home is overwhelming, but keeping your home clean is really important right now.
COVID-19 is a virus most likely spread from person-to-person by direct close contact and by touching objects and surfaces contaminated from a cough or sneeze of an infected person.
Clean high-contact surfaces like doorknobs and handles, benchtops, taps, basins, remote controls, light-switches and your phone regularly.
5. Clean your home and stay at home (if you can)
Slowing the spread of COVID-19 is being described as “nearly as important as stopping it”.
COVID-19 is being transmitted by droplets, person-to-person and it’s spreading exponentially.
Staying home and avoiding public spaces is proven to help slow the transmission of infections.
We all know about flattening the curve.
Flattening the curve during a second wave is just as relevant. If everyone gets sick at the same time we still flood healthcare systems beyond capacity. This means more people will die. People who would otherwise survive if adequate care was available.
If people stay home and slow the spread of infection, healthcare systems can prepare. If sick people present to the hospital over time, there will be enough medicine, equipment, beds and staff to care for everyone. This means fewer people will die.
If you can work from home please do so to help protect the most vulnerable in your community.
6. Check-in with yourself and loved ones
Mental health is just as important as physical health.
A national survey carried out by The Medical Journal of Australia revealed mental health problems were at least twice as prevalent as in non-pandemic circumstances.
The pandemic has changed how we live, and unfortunately until there is a vaccine it’s likely to remain different for some time.
Being aware of how you’re feeling and seeking help is important.
The Australian Government has announced it will provide 10 additional Medicare subsidised psychological therapy sessions for people who have been subjected to further restrictions owning the COVID-19.
If you’re feeling worried or you’re struggling to cope during isolation, the Australian Department of Health are funding a Coronavirus Mental Wellbeing Support Service called Beyond Blue.
The service provides access to trained councillors 24/7, including phone, wed chat and online forum support.
It’s in our DNA to need human connection, sometimes just reaching out to someone can make a world of difference.
Stay safe, look after yourselves and each other, from the team at ENJO Australia
Editor's note: this post was updated 10 August 2020