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'No one would want to touch or eat faeces, but we do that by not washing our hands properly'

The HSE has warned people to “spread cheer, not illness” this Christmas.

shutterstock_630315251 Source: Shutterstock/r.classen

THE HSE HAS issued a pre-Christmas reminder that the simplest way to help stop the spread of bugs that cause diarrhoea, vomiting, coughs, colds and even superbugs is to clean your hands properly.

This means using soap and water at home and alcohol gel in hospitals and clinics.

The HSE said some people are washing their hands insufficiently, missing areas like the tips of their fingers.

Professor Martin Cormican, HSE National Lead for Antibiotic Resistance, said: “Things that look clean often have billions of bacteria and viruses so you can pick them up from touching most surfaces.

“It is really important that you clean your hands well with soap and water and then dry them on a paper (or clean) towel.”

Source: HSE Ireland/YouTube

GP Dr Nuala O Connor added: “No one would want to touch or eat faeces but millions of us across the world do that every day by not cleaning our hands properly.

Every surface we touch has bacteria and viruses on it – door handles, phones, computer keyboards, supermarket trolleys – and we can infect ourselves by allowing these bugs get inside us from our hand through our mouth or nose with our fingers or contaminating something we out in our mouths with our hands such as food or chewing a pen.

“The other way we pick up infections is if someone coughs within three feet of us and the fine spray of tiny drops that they make lands in our mouth, nose or eyes.”

The HSE advises people to clean their hands at the following times:

  • When you have been in contact with a person or an animal with an infection
  • When you get back to your home from being out and about or at work, especially if your work involves a lot of contact with people or animals
  • Before starting to prepare or handle food
  • After touching raw meat including poultry
  • Before eating food
  • After using the toilet and after changing nappies
  • When visiting a hospital or healthcare service

“It is very important to be very careful about cleaning your hands if you are being treated in hospital or visiting someone in hospital over Christmas,” a spokesperson noted. 

If you are in hospital or visiting someone in hospital this Christmas, the HSE has the following advice: 

  • Clean your hands often; use hand sanitiser gel; always do this after you go to the toilet and before you eat
  • Do not share your personal things with other patients – for example, your phone, your earphones, and so on
  • Keep away from other patients’ bed space
  • Do not let anyone sit on your bed, and don’t sit on another patient’s bed

The organisation also urges employers to remind staff members to clean their hands
and for customers to tell a staff member if they see anything that is not clean in an establishment. 

More information can be read here.

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Órla Ryan

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