The COVID-19 pandemic has led to companies adopting a work from home policy. Since the virus also spreads through infected surfaces, it is essential to disinfect your home regularly to reduce your risk of contracting it.
In this era, when the human race is fighting a pandemic, a lot has been shared on personal hygiene and the importance of washing hands. A new concept that this crisis has given birth to is ‘social distancing’, which most countries, including India, have started practising, as this remains the only known way to combat the rapidly spreading coronavirus or COVID-19. While we all maintain self-isolation and work-from-home, it is critical to keep the surroundings clean and disinfected to help contain this viral infection.
Studies have indicated that the coronavirus can survive on surfaces like cardboard for up to a day and up to two to three days on stainless steel and plastic. Therefore, if you have gone out of your house and came back in or somebody else has, then disinfecting high-touch surfaces is an essential step in curbing the spread of the virus. These high-touch surfaces include doorknobs, faucet knobs, table surface, light switches, TV remote controls etc. Clean them first with a hand towel or a wet cloth to remove debris or dust. Apply a surface-appropriate disinfectant next. The best way to do this is to use disinfectant sprays or wipes.
There are many isopropyl-alcohol-based disinfectant sprays in the market, which you can use on these surfaces. Here are some quick tips for disinfecting different areas and surfaces of your home.
The kitchen has the potential of being the second-best place for pathogens to stick around after the washroom, simply because groceries brought from outside the house are handled there. Many times, we also order groceries from e-commerce platforms, and apart from accepting the delivery, we could also accept pathogens in the process. It is advised to use wet wipes to brush down any items wrapped in plastic and then use a disinfectant spray on it.
The kitchen area is full of surfaces which get touched frequently like the fridge handle, cabinet handles or light switches etc. It is very important to use a wet wipe to clean dust and debris from those surfaces and then use a disinfectant (anything with a minimum of 70 percent isopropyl alcohol, or a product which states that it offers 99.9 percent germ-free protection on its label).
We have been asked by all health authorities to wash hands regularly.Nevertheless, it would be useless if we just use a dirty towel to dry our handsafterwards. Damp or dirty towels are a great surface for germs to fester in, and we must take increased precaution to mitigate this risk factor.
Hand towels, being used quite frequently and potentially by multiple people, should be washed and replaced daily. Preferably, the towel should beput out to dry in the sunlight.
High touch surfaces like light switches, shower knobs, faucet knobs and the flush handle should be cleaned at least once daily with a disinfectant spray or wipe.
Clothes should be disinfected regularly. Fortunately, washing clothes with regular laundry soap and then drying them under the sun seems to do the job.
Preferably, warm water should be used to wash clothes, and hands should be washed with soap and water after the process is complete.
The same disinfectant spray which you were using for other tasks can be used to disinfect your mobile phone and laptop as well. Take a soft tissue, spray some disinfectant solution on it, and rub your device’s surface with it. Isopropyl alcohol evaporates very quickly, thus reducing the risk of it migrating into the openings of your device. You can also purchase alcohol swabs to disinfect your devices, as they contain ‘rubbing alcohol’ which also evaporates very quickly upon contact with air.
Nevertheless, you should always check the website of your electronic device’s manufacturing company to find out if there is any disinfectant you should avoid using so as not to damage it.
In addition to disinfecting your homes, doctors around the world are suggesting basic personal hygiene tips to protect yourself from carrying the coronavirus.
Some of these include –
- Focus on social distancing
- Practice hand and respiratory hygiene
- Be extra careful around vulnerable people
- Seek medical care if you develop symptoms
Focus on Social Distancing
Even though you have stopped going to your office, it is equally important to avoid other crowded places like parks, gymnasiums and other social gatherings.
There are some situations in which contact with people cannot be avoided like going outside to buy groceries. Basic hygiene practices like handwashing after coming back home and maintaining a distance of three feet from anyone showing symptoms like cough will be helpful.
It may be beneficial to order groceries and food through e-commerce platforms and make use of the new ‘Contactless Deliveries’ concept, where the delivery guy will leave the package outside your door. Although, this kind of delivery works best for prepaid orders where no exchange of cash needs to take place.>
Dr Manish Sahu, MBBS, MD (Pulmonologist), Ethical Dental and Chest Clinic Noida, says, “Do not forget to wash your hands for 20 seconds, if you touch anything that you receive from outside.”
Practice hand and respiratory hygiene
Maintain and build good hygiene habits to stay safe while working from home. Wash your hands with soap and water or use alcohol-based sanitizers when you come home from outside and wash hands again before cooking or eating food, or before touching your eyes, nose or mouth.
Cover your mouth with a tissue while coughing or sneezing and dispose of the tissue afterwards. Wash your hands immediately after coughing or sneezing.
Be extra careful around vulnerable people
Anybody over the age of 65 or having significant conditions like lung, heart or kidney disease, diabetes or a condition that suppresses the immune system comes under the vulnerable category.
Healthy people should maintain extra caution and behave as if they were a significant risk to vulnerable people. Wash your hands properly before interacting with such persons in your home to reduce their risk of contracting the virus.
Get medical care if you develop symptoms
If you do develop symptoms of corona virus, then it is best to call for medical care and self-isolate until further advice by healthcare authorities. Ensure that you wear a face mask which will stop you from spreading the virus to others. There is no shame in calling the health authorities and it is the best step you can take for yourself and your family.
In conclusion, there are many things you can do to safeguard yourself and your family while working from home and it is best to stay calm about the entire episode, so you do not get too stressed (which suppresses your immune system). It is time to maintain hygiene in your home and carry on with your job.