Continuing to protect ourselves from Covid-19
Social distancing and regular handwashing are the two most important ways to protect from Covid-19.
Everyone should practice social distancing. We must ideally keep distance of 2 metres from others. We release droplets as we breathe and talk and even more as we cough and sneeze. Hence social distancing is essential. Other ways of practicing social distancing is staying away from crowded areas, communal sleeping areas and not shaking hands. Risk is low for just passing someone, but risk increases as contact time with another person increase. As many of us return to work in the coming weeks and months, follow the instructions put in place by your employer.
Wash your hands and keep washing throughout the day. Use a tissue or sleeve to cover your mouth and nose when you sneeze or cough, put the tissue in a bin then wash your hands and always clean used surfaces.
Always wash your hands after you sneeze or cough, if you pet an animal, when you leave and get to a building, before and after a cigarette, after toilet use, before you eat and after etc. As you wash your hands regularly, your hands will become dry. Use any hand cream or non- perfumed moisturiser.
Proper use of PPE
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) is important in circumstances where close contact with others is not avoidable in certain workplace and healthcare settings. However, it should not be used as an alternative to hand washing and social distancing.
There is conflicting evidence regarding use of face masks. Health authorities continue to update guidance. Health authorities are also conscious if they advise us all to wear facemasks, it will lead to shortages for those that need them most like health workers and the most vulnerable. Protection level depends on the type of mask and using them correctly. Social distancing is a better way to protect yourself rather than facemasks alone. Face masks can reduce infection risk if used properly. Facemasks are most beneficial in the likes of medical and care settings where close contact between care giver and patient is unavoidable. As the population returns to work in the coming weeks, masks and face visors will be advised in certain situations especially where social distancing is less possible.
How to use masks properly
Clean your hands first, cover nose and mouth with the mask, tie the mask securely, ensure the mask is not damp or wet and when wearing the mask don’t touch the outside of it. Do not pull the mask up and down to use the phone etc. For maximum protection, take off and discard mask before activities like eating and drinking and put a new mask on after. When taking the mask off, take it off from the straps, put it in the bin without touching the outside and wash your hands. Never reuse a mask, it may be contaminated.
Wearing gloves can give you a false sense of security which can lead to wearing gloves instead of washing/ sanitising your hands. The virus can live on the surface of gloves, so you can contaminate yourself when touching surfaces (like phones, keys, wallet) or when removing the gloves. Make sure your skin does not contact the outside of the contaminated gloves. Proper hand washing is a better approach though gloves are essential for certain activities like preparing food, handling medicines for others etc.
Keep up to date on Covid-19 updates at www.hse.ie
Written by Siobhan Clarke (Pharmacy Technician) and Eamonn Brady (Pharmacist). Whelehans Pharmacies, 38 Pearse St and Clonmore, Mullingar. Tel 04493 34591 (Pearse St) or 04493 10266 (Clonmore). www.whelehans.ie