Ten months into the pandemic, handwashing with soap and other public health measures such as maintaining physical distance, practising cough etiquette and wearing a mask remain the best defence against coronavirus, the World Health Organisation said
Global Handwashing Day is observed on October 15 each year to raise awareness and highlight the importance of handwashing as an effective means of disease prevention. This year it marks a critical reminder for the world that this simple, cost-effective practice can save lives, said the WHO.
"Handwashing has always been one of the most effective ways of keeping diseases at bay. It is a simple act that pays in dividends when it comes to keeping ourselves healthy and safe. Handwashing is also one of the key cornerstones of COVID-19 prevention.
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"Now more than ever as we embrace the new normal and live with COVID-19, hand hygiene needs to become an integral part of our daily routine and our lives as we live through this pandemic and beyond to protect us from diseases," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the regional director of the WHO South-East Asia Region.
The world health body said with COVID-19 transmission mainly spreading between people through direct, indirect – through contaminated objects or surfaces – or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions, washing hands with soap and running water was of critical importance.
"To stop the spread of COVID-19, along with other COVID appropriate behaviours, the practice of handwashing at regular intervals is a must, after coughing or sneezing, when caring for the sick, after using the toilet, before eating, while preparing food and after handling animals or animal waste.
“Handwashing after touching common surfaces such as doorknobs or handles, or after one comes back home from visiting a public place will keep ourselves and others around us safe," it said.Follow our full coverage of the coronavirus pandemic here.