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Coronavirus

Information for health care workers is available on healthservice.hse.ie Coronavirus guidance documents are available on hpsc.ie

World Hand Hygiene Day

Most years when Hand Hygiene Day comes around we ask ourselves how do we find a fresh way to talk to people about the importance of hand hygiene in preventing infection. This year, because of COVID-19, it is all very different. Preventing infection with COVID-19 is now on everyone’s mind

Published: 1 May 2020

Today, 5 May 2019, is World Hand Hygiene Day

Hand hygiene

Professor Martin Cormican, HSE National Lead for Antibiotic Resistance and Infection Control says:

“Most years when Hand Hygiene Day comes around we have to ask ourselves how do we find a fresh way to talk to people about the importance of hand hygiene in preventing infection. This year, because of COVID-19, it is all very different. Preventing infection with COVID-19 is now on everyone’s mind.”

Since the COVID-19 pandemic started a lot of people are now using disposable gloves in everyday life. Using gloves while doing shopping or when people are out and about is not recommended.

If there are bugs on your gloves those bugs often end up on your hands when you take the gloves off and they can very easily end up in your mouth, nose and eyes. It’s much better to clean your hands regularly and properly. In healthcare settings, there is still a need to perform hand hygiene when the gloves come off.  In hospitals, gloves are single-use for single patient care tasks.

Hand hygiene is one of the most important things that we can do to stop the spread of COVID-19 infection, as well as preventing all the other infections that are still out there.  Recent research undertaken by the Department of Health shows that in relation to safe behaviours, 96% of people are washing their hands more often as a result of COVID-19. It is important for people to continue with good hand hygiene.

Help your children to learn good hand hygiene and help us to stop the spread of COVID-19 and other infections.

You can help protect yourself and your family from an infection or superbug.

Wash your hands properly and often:

  • After coughing or sneezing
  • Before and after eating
  • Before and after preparing food
  • Before and after touching an open sore or cut
  • After using the toilet
  • After changing a child’s nappy
  • If you were in contact with someone who has a fever or respiratory symptoms (cough, shortness of breath, difficulty breathing)
  • Before and after being on public transport
  • Before and after being in a crowd (especially an indoor crowd)
  • On entering and before leaving buildings, including your home or anyone else's home
  • After touching  animals or animal waste
  • After removing gloves if you wear gloves
  • Before and after visiting someone in a hospital or residential setting

Regular use of a hand moisturiser will protect your hands from the drying effects of hand hygiene products. If you have dry skin or a skin condition, apply moisturiser after washing and drying your hands.

Watch this video on proper handwashing.

We often think we have washed our hands properly but have a look at this short experiment and you will be surprised.

Tips for stopping infections spreading at home

The goal is to find a good balance between keeping your hands clean when it’s most important without limiting your enjoyment of life. 

Particularly important times to wash your hand are:

  • 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

Technology hygiene

Research has shown that PCs, keyboards, phones are full of bacteria – a mouse has an average of 260 bacteria per centimetre squared, a keyboard has 511 and the mouthpiece of a telephone has an impressive 3,895. Make sure you clean your tech equipment even if you are working from home during the COVID19 pandemic.

Get more information

Find more information about PPE here

There are lots of tips on hand hygiene on hse.ie/handhygiene