Nov 2020 2nd edition

Prevent diseases by washing your hands

There’s no doubt that the Coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic has brought home the message that frequent handwashing is one of the best ways to avoid getting sick and spreading illness.

Bacteria, viruses and germs are everywhere. While some are good, many are harmful and can cause infections and diseases.

As you touch people, surfaces and objects throughout the day, you accumulate germs on your hands. You can infect yourself with these germs by touching your eyes, nose or mouth, or spread them to others. Although it's impossible to keep your hands germ-free, washing your hands often can help limit the transfer of bacteria and viruses.

With COVID-19 cases starting to rise again, it’s very important to keep washing your hands regularly and practise good hand hygiene.

How germs are spread

Many people spread germs to other people via their hands, without even knowing it. Germs can also be spread by:

  • Touching your eyes, nose and mouth with unwashed hands.
  • Preparing food with unwashed hands. The germs spread into the food and can grow in the food.
  • Germs from unwashed hands can spread to objects that we touch, such as cellphones, computers, door handles and keys.

Wash your hands

You can break the cycle of disease and keep yourself and your loved ones healthy by washing your hands often, especially:

  • After using the toilet.
  • Before, during and after preparing and eating food.
  • After handling rubbish.
  • Before feeding children or other people.
  • Before and after changing a baby’s nappy.
  • After touching animals.
  • Before and after treating a wound.
  • After blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing.

Information supplied by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.

How to wash your hands

It’s very important to wash your hands properly. You can do this by following these steps:

  • Wet your hands thoroughly with clean water and lather with soap.
  • Rub your palms together to scrub.
  • Rub between your fingers.
  • Rub the back of your hands.
  • Clean underneath your nails.
  • Wash your wrists.
  • Rinse thoroughly with clean water and then dry your hands with a clean paper towel. Drying your hands properly is also important, as wet and moist hands are more easily contaminated.

Information supplied by the KwaZulu-Natal Department of Health.

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