One of the most effective tools we have against a spreading pandemic is our own vigilance. By changing our behaviour, we can limit the opportunity for a virus to propagate. That’s why the government’s ‘stay alert’ message has been so ubiquitous.
The virus has persuaded many of us to take hygiene seriously, in a way that perhaps we didn’t before. After all, the stakes for doing so are higher. And this is a pattern we see mirrored in countries around the globe – including China, where the virus originated.
So, in practice, what does our newfound fascination with hygiene look like? There are a few manifestations worth taking a look at.
If there’s one industry that’s benefitted from the arrival of the pandemic, its manufacturers of alcohol-based hand sanitizer. It’s a consumable, meaning that we all need to keep buying it. Moreover, it’s something which can be taken just about everywhere, and which can be used more or less constantly. Every business or public building in the country now has a bottle of complementary hand sanitizer sitting near the entrance, and a market for luxury hand-sanitizer has sprung up almost overnight, as part of a broader renaissance in ‘Instagram Hygiene’.
Of course, the cheaper alternative to hand sanitizer is to simply wash your hands, at a sink, with soap and water. Ideally, this should be the first thing you do every time you enter a building. While many of us might have observed this ritual without fail during March and April, it might be that the habit did not successfully catch on.
You might protest that a virus is not a bacteria, and that therefore antibacterial wipes are not going to be effective. But the truth is that ‘antibacterial’ is a marketing term, and that many of these wipes work just as well against viruses as they do against other germs. What’s important to look for is the alcohol concentration, which should be between 70 and 90%, according to the WHO.
Facemasks are, contrary to early advice, effective enough that wearing them should be considered obligatory, especially in public areas and indoors. According to polling from YouGov in July, most Brits believe that masks are effective – they were in favour of mandatory mask-wearing, even if they didn’t themselves feel the need to wear one.
Whether the virus can be transmitted through surfaces is a matter of speculation among medical experts. In practice, it’s unlikely – but that doesn’t mean that surfaces should not be disinfected, particularly in sensitive parts of the home like the kitchen. According to Hammonds furniture, the average UK kitchen would score just a 1.6 on the Food Hygiene Scale you see in restaurants and takeaways. For the uninitiated, that means ‘major improvement necessary’. To test the publics knowledge on hygiene in the home, Hammonds put together this quick brainteaser. Can you spot the hygiene flaws in this kitchen? There are 7 in total.
It takes the average person 45 seconds to find them all.
So, how did you do? Scroll down for the answers
The answers were,
- Dirty sponges in the sink – bacteria can form on old, dirty sponges and can be passed to surfaces when you wipe them down. Change your cleaning sponge/ cloth regularly.
- Uncooked meat and vegetables on the same chopping board – Make sure to use two different boards to separate meat and vegetables to avoid cross contamination.
- A broken freezer – make sure your freezer isn’t thawing food out as it can lead to food going off.
- An empty soap dispenser by the sink – it’s important to wash your hands with soap to stop the spread of germs.
- Dead flies by the window – flies can spread diseases. Make sure to wipe surfaces where flies have landed.
- Food waste dropped on the floor by the bin – food debris on the floor can attract unwanted pests such as flies and slugs.
- Dirty equipment (knives, plates) – make sure to wash your equipment to stop bacteria forming and transferring to food.