Do you want to get sick this winter?Long-term pandemic health habits | Health and Welfare

We’ve had a Covid-19 pandemic for two and a half years, and other viruses seem to be in the limelight.

Hand-foot-and-mouth disease has occurred in nurseries in the Northern Territory and northern Queensland, the number of influenza cases has skyrocketed, and monkeypox has occurred in Australia (experts say it is unlikely to take off. but).

The good news is that continuing some of the health and hygiene habits adopted for Covid will also reduce the risk of infecting other lurks, experts say.

Caring about your hand

According to a study, before the pandemic, few people wash their hands with soap after going to the toilet, about 1 in 4 people worldwide and 2 in areas with good access to hand washing facilities. I was alone.

This caused a lot of (dirty) pointing in the early stages of the pandemic, and a large number of public messages and nasty celebrity videos emphasized the importance of washing hands thoroughly with soap and running water for 20 seconds. Or, if you use a hand sanitizer, you can’t tap.

Dr. Kelly Hancock, a GP based in Adelaide and with a special interest in respiratory medicine, says Sars-CoV-2 is now known to spread primarily in the air, but hand hygiene is an infection-preventing “ It is “essential” and states that it is an easy method. Reduces infection with other viruses and bacteria.

Our enthusiasm for hand washing may have declined since the early days of the pandemic, but it remains the basis of infection prevention for yourself and others. Photo: Klaus Vedfeld / Getty Images

“It’s very easy to wash and disinfect your hands before eating or touching them … but anecdotally, I don’t think they’re as enthusiastic as six months before their peak. [of Covid cases] In South Australia. “

Associate Professor Hollyseal, an infectious disease awareness and behavior expert at the University of New South Wales, says that most people have been taught about hygiene in the context of protecting themselves since childhood. Hygiene is bidirectional.

Cleaning your hands before going to a store or taking an elevator “also protects others.”

Habit of throwing away: gloves
However, you don’t need to wear gloves to protect yourself from surface bacteria such as supermarket trolleys, says Seale.

“People wearing gloves are less likely to wash their hands and may be at higher risk because they think their hands are clean.”

Normal jab

Seale is for everyone over 6 months old Influenza vaccineProtected against 4 strains in 2022.

In 2021, Australia recorded zero influenza deaths, and federal health data from January to early November recorded only 598 confirmed cases.

By this year, three people have died of the flu and more than 47,860 have had the flu. “It was about two years ago that the flu didn’t actually occur, and there are certainly concerns about the low level of protection for people,” Seale said.

The federal government has already submitted a bill for influenza vaccines for high-risk people, but at the time of writing, all state governments except the Northern Territory and ACT temporarily provided jabs to the general public for free. I am.

Seal calls this a “great initiative” and “may really shift people to consider flu vaccination as part of their normal habits. Once they receive it, they may come back and receive it again. Because it ’s expensive. ”

It may be worthwhile to make jabs free in the long run, Seal adds.In addition to the flu vaccine, Hancock encourages everyone to stay up to date on vaccination Whooping cough (Whooping cough), a “troublesome illness” that occurs every few years in Australia.

Stay home when you’re sick (and mask when you can’t)

One of the biggest lessons of Covid-19 is People who are not feeling well Stay away from work and social eventsSays Sina Sullivan, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the Doherty Institute.

She wants her employer to set an example and lead. This may mean addressing cultural barriers to using sick leave, such as helping staff fully work from home or fear of “disappointing the team.” ..

However, the casual workforce and areas where people are unable to work from home continue to present a “real risk” to disease control and must be addressed by the government, says Sullivan.

“Early in the pandemic, many people who work with the most vulnerable people in our community are part of this large casual workforce that is not eligible for sick leave and take leave. It turned out to be discouraged … including people working in elderly care, disability care, and other important services such as meat packaging. “

Sullivan, in the long run, if you need to go out when you have respiratory symptoms Wearing Mask from courtesy to others..

“It’s an unusual environment because I work with someone who has a good understanding of the virus, but when I know that someone in my family is sick or has symptoms of myself, Some people start wearing the N95 at work. “

Seale suggests that employers provide free surgical masks or respiratory equipment in case staff are involved in new respiratory symptoms at work.

Hancock said: “The best mask is the N95 respirator, which is fit tested and checked and worn with the strap firmly fixed overhead. But the best compromise for the general public is to prevent transmission to others. It is a surgical mask of. “

Clean the air

“Especially for aerosol infections Ventilation is important“Hancock says.

The World Health Organization Ventilation “Bible” has advice for assessing the airflow of building managers and those caring for Covid-19 patients at home, but Hancock also tells people about their social situation. I encourage you to think.

Man opening the window at home
Natural ventilation, such as opening windows, can help airflow, especially in a residential environment. Photo: DragonImages / Getty Images / iStockphoto

“Many cafes and businesses have remodeled their buildings. Maybe they broke the walls to open more windows … for example, I wasn’t sitting to eat in a crowded, poorly ventilated area. Choose where to actually go. “

Change to ditch: barrier
Adequate ventilation is essential, but plastic barriers are a concern, Hancock says it interferes with ventilation and gives false relief, such as those used at checkouts in many retail stores.

“If you are at a supermarket counter and cough, it is advisable to wear masks to protect the cashier. Otherwise, they will be protected from droplets. [by the barrier] But … not from a small aerosol that rises into the air and is sucked on the other side. “

make a plan

The pandemic also emphasizes the importance of people with chronic health. Plans to follow if their health deterioratesHancock says.

“My asthma patients have always adhered to preventative medications. They really have rhinoviruses, whether your asthma is under control and the virus develops with it, whether it’s Sars-Cov-2. I received the message that it was. [the main cause of the common cold]It is less likely to turn worse.

“People with other illnesses such as bronchitis and chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD) have difficulty controlling their illness … but all patients with chronic pulmonary disease write down their action plans. What’s worse is if you need to take a drug or take another drug, if you have a hotline where you can call, or when to call an ambulance. “

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