Dr. Kayleigh Cox-Nowak, technical support manager, Schülke & Mayr UK, considers the guidance, evidence and solutions to ensure effective hand hygiene, to reduce the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and other infectious diseases.
Maintaining hand hygiene has long been recognised as essential for reducing the incidence of infectious diseases in all populations. Compliance with recommended hand cleansing procedures appears to play a significant role in decreasing the risk of gastroenteric and respiratory infections. For healthcare staff, stringent hand hygiene measures are critical, as unclean hands may assist the transmission of microorganisms between patients and staff, leading to increased morbidity, mortality, and costs related to healthcare-associated infections.1
Enhanced hand hygiene procedures in clinical settings are an intrinsic element of SARS-CoV-2 prevention. This article considers some of the evidence for enhanced hand hygiene procedures, the selection of appropriate hand cleaning agents, and also the dermatological impact on the hands of healthcare workers
Coronavirus disease 19 (COVID-19) is a highly transmittable and pathogenic viral infection caused by severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). Although the intermediate source of origin and transfer to humans is not known, the rapid human to human transfer has been confirmed. The virus spreads through close contact with an infected person, by exposure to coughing, sneezing, respiratory droplets or aerosols. These aerosols can penetrate the human body (lungs) via inhalation through the nose or mouth with incubation times between two and ten days.2 Laboratory experiments have demonstrated that SARS-CoV-2 can remain viably infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces for days.3
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