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Coronavirus and reopening: What can we do to prevent infection?

SJD Barcelona Children's Hospital recommendations for reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection both inside and outside the home.

3 June 2020
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Following the outbreak of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus pandemic, the country is reopening in controlled phases in a gradual return to normal. However, we must not forget that we are still vulnerable to infection and need to protect ourselves.

The coronavirus is transmitted through respiratory droplets (produced when talking, coughing, or sneezing), either by direct person-to-person contact or through contaminated objects or surfaces. Which is why the main measures to prevent the spread of the virus are based on hand washing and social distancing.

Below are a series of recommendations for reducing the risk of COVID-19 infection both inside and outside the home.

When you're in public, wash your hands and keep your distance

Hand washing is one of the most effective measures for preventing infection. Therefore, it is imperative that you wash your hands with soap and water before you leave the house and when you return. Gloves can be worn but remember that correct and frequent hand washing is much more effective. Gloves can get dirty and become contaminated when worn for long periods of time, and if you touch your face with the contaminated glove you can get infected. Moreover, it is not easy to take off the gloves and not contaminate your hands, so remember to thoroughly wash your hands after you take gloves off.

Authorities recommend that adults and children over 3 years of age wear a mask. Younger children can also wear one, although children at that age are less likely to keep the mask on. In addition, it is important to maintain a distance of 1-2 metres when meeting with other people, if possible.
When out, avoid touching your face, nose, and mouth with your hands and sneeze or cough into your elbow (not your hands). Likewise, avoid touching surfaces and things like benches; if you do, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or use hand sanitizer.

And what about back at home?

When you get home, take off your shoes and leave them near the door, and do the same with objects you do not need inside the house (like keys or a wallet). It is important to clean objects that have been used outside the house (such as glasses, smartphones, and small electronic devices like tablets, laptops, remote controls, etc.) with a tissue and alcohol-based solution or with soap and water.  And above all, wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water once inside.

As for clothes, avoid shaking and it is preferable (although not mandatory) to wash clothes in hot water (recommended more when washing the clothes of someone who is infected).

What can we do at home to protect ourselves from COVID-19?

Coronavirus can live for long periods of time on different surfaces (up to four days on plastic and aluminium). Which is why household cleaning plays a major part in preventing the transmission of this virus (and any other).

The most important thing you can do is to clean and disinfect frequently touched surfaces: door knobs and handles, railings, switches and buttons, remote controls and telephones, as well as the most exposed surfaces of tables, chairs, furniture, household appliances, taps, sinks, and toilets.  This should be done daily if someone in the home is infected with SARS-CoV-2.

Clean first with soap and water or household detergents to remove dirt and reduce the number of germs on surfaces. Once cleaned, disinfectants can be used to kill any remaining germs.  There are many disinfectants on the market that can be used against SARS-CoV-2, most of which have not been directly tested for this virus but have been proven effective for viruses that are more difficult to eradicate.  For practical purposes, products with active ingredients such as ethanol, hydrogen peroxide (hydrogen peroxide), and ammonia can be used for disinfection.

You can also mix 20 ml of bleach (3-5%) or chlorine with 980 ml of water, let it work for five minutes, and then rinse. It is important to always read the instructions (disinfectant contact time with the surface to be effective) and take the necessary precautions, such as not mixing products and ensuring you use the product in a well-ventilated room.

Wearing old clothes and using gloves to protect you from the virus and the disinfectant are recommended. Using disposable gloves is preferable, but regular cleaning gloves can be used and use them only for cleaning if disposable gloves are unavailable. Use different rags for disinfecting, washing, and drying, and wash your hands when you are done cleaning.

Aside from cleaning and disinfecting, airing out the rooms in your house (for a minimum of 5-10 minutes every day) to circulate the air and prevent the accumulation of CO2 is another way you can help prevent the spread of infectious agents and relieve respiratory conditions.

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Coronavirus and reopening: What can we do to prevent infection?