There is something we can do: wash our hands!

The speedy spread of COVID-19 around the globe has left many of us feeling out of control and helpless, so we asked Dr Naomi Thompson, Consultant Microbiologist for the NHS, what can we do about this coronavirus crisis?

“Washing your hands is the best way we can all help prevent the spread of infections, including coronavirus.

Wash all parts of the hand, including under fingernails, for 20 seconds – the time taken to sing happy birthday twice, or sing this song to the tune of ‘Row, row, row your boat’ twice instead:

Wash, wash, wash your hands,
Thumbs and fingers too,
Rinse and then make sure they’re dry,
That’s the thing to do!”

Here’s a fun experiment you can try at home to demonstrate the effectiveness of washing our hands well!

Naomi and her team are currently extremely busy keeping COVID-19 testing running at Chesterfield Royal Hospital. Thank you all for your hard work!

But why is plain old soap and water such a powerful tool against the spread of coronaviruses? Professor Pall Thordarson explains in The Guardian:

“The short story: because the virus is a self-assembled nanoparticle in which the weakest link is the lipid (fatty) bilayer. Soap dissolves the fat membrane and the virus falls apart like a house of cards and dies – or rather, we should say it becomes inactive as viruses aren’t really alive.”

Find out more in The science of soap – here’s how it kills the coronavirus by Pall Thordarson in The Guardian.

It’s crucial that we all follow the latest government advice about self-isolation – please click here to find up-to-date information.

Are your children feeling anxious about coronavirus (COVID-19)? Read anxiety-busting advice from childhood mental health specialist, Dr Naira Wilson, here.

Dr Naomi Thompson is a Consultant Microbiologist at Chesterfield Royal Hospital.

Professor Pall Thordarson is a professor of chemistry at the University of New South Wales, Sydney.

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