Once again we are free to visit each other and attend events – but the Covid virus won’t disappear overnight as the restrictions have.
There is still plenty we should do to minimise our risk of catching the virus or spreading it to other people.
Microbiologist Val Edwards-Jones has appeared on Embarrassing Bodies (Channel 4) and How To Deep Clean Your House (Channel 5). She says, “It’s important to think about the likelihood of bumping into someone who is infectious. We are at very high numbers of cases. I’d still recommend being cautious, especially within crowded areas.
“I think there will definitely be another increase in case numbers. We are going to get a lot of confusion with flu and other seasonal respiratory illnesses, and you’ll see Covid cases go up as well as everything else.
“The virus is still mutating and we know the vaccine isn’t 100% effective so we are going to get people slipping through the loopholes.
“There are massive numbers of people vaccinated at the moment – something like 44 million have been double jabbed – but if the vaccines are only 96% efficient, that means 2 million may still be susceptible to infection.”
Val has provided some tips on how best to protect ourselves and others around us.
There’s still a lot to learn about the virus but there are precautions we can take to help slow the spread of the disease.
Val explains, “Continue with good hygiene principles – face, space, washing your hands. I think those three are very sensible approaches that can easily be continued. And of course try to avoid going into crowded areas if you possibly can.”
Be mindful of high touch surfaces
Cleaning certain types of surfaces more frequently than others is particularly important. It’s especially vital in the workplace where multiple people may contaminate surfaces.
Val explains, “High touch surfaces are those that people frequently touch with their hands, which could become easily contaminated and picked up by others on their hands.”
- Work surfaces and equipment – desks, keyboards, phones and printers
- Communal spaces – door handles, railings, light switches, lifts and windows
- Bathroom facilities – toilets, sinks, flush handles, hand dryers and doors
- Kitchens – kettles, fridges, microwaves and cupboards
- Equipment – card machines, control panels, delivery boxes and water coolers
- Mobile phones – More than 80% of our personal bacterial “fingerprint” ends up on mobile screens, a study suggests
- Remote controls – When it isn’t in germy hands, it’s on the floor or between sofa cushions – a cosy, dark home for mould and bacteria
- Toothbrush holder – This spot has one of the highest bacteria readings of anything you touch
- Money – Researchers found that most money notes are covered in 3,000 types of bacteria
Val says, “I’d recommend having a good quality hand sanitiser in your bag and using it multiple times throughout the day. Something like Clinell Hand Sanitiser Gel, £3.95. It’s clinically proven to be as effective as washing with soap and water, great when you’ve no access to a sink.
- Effective against a wide range of bacteria and viruses
- Fast-acting, easy-dry sanitiser gel
- Includes aloe vera and glycerine, kinder to skin with no stickiness
- Includes alcohol and biocides
- Trusted by healthcare professionals
Ensure surfaces are wiped down properly
Studies have shown that wipes are the most effective method of surface cleaning to kill bacteria, remove particles, residue and dirt.
Val explains, “I do think a lot of people have dropped the whole concept of food hygiene and sanitising. A lot of people’s mindsets have been ‘I’ve had Covid before’ or ‘I’ve been double vaccinated’ but the people that are vulnerable are still vulnerable.
“Because of Covid, we’ve all learned really good practice. Not just to reduce the effect of Covid but of all the other diseases we routinely pick up from people not washing their hands or sneezing over surfaces.
“If we continue wearing masks in heavily populated areas, washing our hands and keeping surfaces clean, that will help prevent a spike of other illnesses, not just Covid.”
Val reveals, “There have been a lot of investigations into childhood diseases during the Covid period. Cases of meningitis and respiratory diseases are right down – they are all spread by respiratory and surface transmission.”
Invest in good quality wipes
Val says, “When it comes to cleaning, I’d recommend some good wipes for the house and office such as Clinell Universal Cleaning and Disinfecting Wipes for Home, £9.95. They are easy to use – a single-step detergent and disinfectant, killing at least 99.99% of pathogens in 10 seconds.
“Just remember that when cleaning surfaces, you shouldn’t go round in circles as you just wipe the organisms about. Instead go in an S shape, slowly. Ensure you don’t overlap and you are allowing time for the chemicals to kill the bacteria.”
- Effective against a wide range of bacteria and viruses
- Working fast and effective, proven to kill bacteria from 10 seconds in dirty conditions
- These cleaning and disinfectant wipes are non-corrosive, alcohol-free and bleach-free making them suitable for use on all household surfaces. Safe to use to disinfect children’s toys.
- Safe on all washable surfaces, can be used without gloves. Non bleaching
- Multipurpose wipes for the bathroom, kitchen, rest of house and car, ideal to clean and disinfect all surfaces and equipment, suitable for use around babies and pets
Continue wearing masks in highly populated areas
Despite it no longer being mandatory to wear masks, many still advise doing so in crowded areas such as queues or on the Tube. Many people with weakened immune systems can still be left unsafe.
Before the pandemic, in February 2020, Val began making ‘EveryCloudSPFace Coverings silver-impregnated face masks for friends and family, before WHO guidance on triple-layer face masks was issued. Val knew they would offer the protection needed for the impending coronavirus pandemic. She made more than 1,000 masks on a sewing machine, before deciding to go into business and having them made professionally.
Val explains, “I still recommend we wear masks in crowded areas. They help to reduce the risk of the wearer passing the virus on. For many of us, this idea of doing something for the collective good seems fair and reasonable.”
Val says, “Let’s be ultra-vigilant. I’m not saying we should be wearing masks at all times, but I think with better hygiene and better practices we can keep things reduced.
“Let’s always use our good hygiene practices, especially as flu season is on the horizon. If we can still wear masks in busy places, wash hands more frequently, use sanitiser when out and about and clean surfaces with good quality wipes, this will help us to prevent spikes of illnesses and protect vulnerable people at risk.”