Tuesday 5th May

GPs urge the public – please wash your hands – #WashYourHands #HandHygiene

Hand hygiene at vanguard of battle against COVID-19

Tuesday  5th May  is WHO World Hand Hygiene Day around the world

The Irish College of General Practitioners, the training and professional body for Irish GPs, has urged the public to remember that to protect their health, they need to clean their hands thoroughly.

Dr Nuala O Connor, ICGP Lead Advisor on Infection Control & COVID-19,  said “Washing your hands has never been more important as we live through this worldwide COVID-19 pandemic. 

“Washing your hands is one of the most important actions people can take – from families to healthcare professionals – to help reduce the spread of this virus.

“It is also one of the easiest ways to protect yourself and others from illnesses such as vomiting, diarrhoea, coughs, colds, sore throat, flu, in fact virtually all infections. 

“Many infections – not just COVID-19 – are spread on commonly-used surfaces such as door handles, or by tiny air-borne particles. Viruses are spread through the air as tiny particles which you inhale if someone carrying the virus coughs or sneezes near you or if you touch surfaces contaminated with virus particles and then touch your own face. So wash your hands regularly especially before preparing or eating food and avoid touching your hands to your face.”

“The other way we pick up infections is if someone coughs within three feet of us and we inhale their germs. So if you feel a cough or sneeze coming on then turn away from people and cough into your elbow or a tissue, bin it and wash your hands. Hand sanitising gel is a great way to keep your hands free from harmful bugs.”

“Teaching children the importance of handwashing and how to cough safely are great safety life skills.  Good hand hygiene can help parents reduce the risk of having to stay home from work due to their child’s or their own illness.

Dr O’Connor added: “ We should all try to make a habit of cleaning our hands often during the day. It is very important to clean your hands at these times:

  • when in contact with another person, or an animal with an infection;
  • when you come back home after being out at work where you have been in contact with other people, or animals;
  • before starting to prepare or handle food;
  • after touching raw meat or poultry;
  • before eating food;
  • after using the toilet or changing nappies;
  • when visiting a hospital or healthcare facility.

Dr O’Connor said:” All you need to prevent infection is running water soap and a clean towel. You don’t need fancy soaps and you should avoid “antibacterial” soaps as they don’t offer benefit and may increase the risk of resistant germs. Remember to wash towels often at home. Outside the home use alcohol gel if possible. “

– #WashYourHands #HandHygiene

Find out more about WHO World Hand Hygiene Day at .https://www.who.int/infection-prevention/en/

See hse.ie/handhygiene for more information and helpful videos about good hand hygiene.  Visit www.undertheweather.ie for tips from GPs and pharmacists on managing simple illnesses such as tummy bugs, coughs, and colds at home.  ENDS

Issued by: Aileen O’Meara, Communications Consultant, Irish College of General Practitioners.Tel. 087 2239830 

Email: media@icgp.ie Twitter @ICGPnews – #WashYourHands #HandHygiene