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Handwashing: Your First Line of Defence

Mar 24, 2020

On March 11, 2020, the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 as a pandemic. The virus has been spreading worldwide and, at the time of writing, Canada has had 1,646 confirmed cases and 24 fatalities from the virus.

“COVID-19 is a serious public health threat,” said Dr. Theresa Tam, Chief Public Health Officer of Canada. “All Canadians must act now to reduce the spread.”

Viral infections can be dangerous; however, good infection prevention measures can help protect you and others. Handwashing, when done correctly, is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of this communicable disease. Hands are one of the most frequent transmission routes for all types of infections, as they come in direct contact with our mouth, nose, and eyes.

Proper handwashing

Good handwashing technique is easy to learn and can significantly reduce the spread of infectious diseases among both children and adults. Wash hands with soap and water for 15 to 20 seconds. When soap and water are not available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer.

Apply enough product to thoroughly wet hands, then rub hands together briskly until dry, working the soap out through an interlocked finger motion. Scrub your fingertips against your palm is also a good way to get under your nails. Always make sure to wash your hands after coming into contact with anyone who exhibits flu symptoms, or after being in a public place where disease can spread easily.

Follow these other preventative measures to protect yourself and others from infection:

  • Cough and sneeze in your arm, not your hand.
  • Keep common surfaces and items clean and disinfected.
  • Avoid touching your face with unwashed hands.
  • Practice social distancing by staying home, and do not leave for any non-essential circumstances.
  • Be careful with re-contamination because items including cell phones, door handles and money can all carry the virus on their surface. Sanitize these items if possible, and be actively aware of the surfaces you are touching.

Visit the Government of Canada’s pandemic hub for more information on COVID-19.