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Handwashing Could Become Routine Long After COVID-19 – Specialists

Medical experts say that proper handwashing, with soap and water, not only reduces the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), but can also prevent the spread of other viral illnesses such as cold and flu. Science has also shown that washing hands for 20 seconds is effective in killing germs, much more than using an alcohol based sanitizer.
A lady enforcing handwashing at one of the gates of Kalerwe Lufula Market

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Public Health Experts are optimistic that Ugandans could get accustomed to consistent handwashing and using sanitizers as a practice, long after coronavirus is gone.  Handwashing is being promoted the world over as the number one tip for preventing the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19).  

Medical experts say that proper handwashing, with soap and water, not only reduces the spread of Coronavirus (COVID-19), but can also prevent the spread of other viral illnesses such as cold and flu. Science has also shown that washing hands for 20 seconds is effective in killing germs, much more than using an alcohol-based sanitizer.  

Although handwashing has been a basic practice amongst Ugandans over the years, it has been heightened after the outbreak of Coronavirus Disease. Today, handwashing facilities have been installed in public offices, markets and supermarkets, changing the tide in a space of fewer than two months.  

Dr David Musoke, a lecturer in the Department of Disease Control and Environmental Health at Makerere School of Public Health says that although we are trying to prevent coronavirus by washing hands, the practice is in a way helping to fight oral-faecal diseases like diarrhoea, cholera, typhoid and dysentery.  

Musoke says they hope that this culture which has been tremendously taken up can even get better during and after the outbreak adding that all authorities need to encourage the practices by installing hand sanitizers, and enforcing general health hygiene.   

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Professor Fred Ssengooba, also from the School of Public Health says that such times are important for resetting cultural norms in our community. He says it would be key for institutions like schools to start an aggressive handwashing campaign, as part of institutional culture. 

He says that institutionalizing the handwashing culture can ingrain the practices in the minds of people, and follow the children, wherever they go after school. 

“We could develop a culture of cleaning, rails and handles. It might end up to be a combination of handwashing and where we touch, like random cleaning of door handles.” He says. 

But Dr Diana Atwine, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Health says that unfortunately, people’s response diminishes with the defeat of the disease. She says they have been talking to the population about handwashing but the culture has been different. 

She, however, recommends that the handwashing facilities be installed and even made better even after the disease is gone. 

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So far there are 52 cases of COVID-19 in Uganda.

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