Washing hands key in stopping coronavirus spread: Are you doing it correctly?

Countless officials have stressed the importance of hand-washing when it comes to preventing the further spread of coronavirus in the U.S., but how many of us know the proper way of doing so? There are a few general rules to follow when it comes to washing your hands thoroughly, including for how long you should keep them under running water.

“Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing,” Dr. Amy Fuller, director of Endicott College’s family nurse practitioner master’s degree program, told Fox News. “If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitizer with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.”

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Fuller said any kind of soap for hand-washing would do, but when it comes to hand sanitizer it is preferred that the product have at least 60 percent alcohol content to kill off any potentially dangerous germs.

COVID-19 is part of a larger family of coronaviruses, which means that if it behaves similarly to its “cousins,” so to speak, it may be able to live on surfaces for up to nine days. That means that if you work in a shared space environment, or share work equipment with others, there are some extra precautionary measures you should take.

“If you share a workstation/computer/laptop, make certain to clean all touching surfaces with a Clorox or Lysol wipe,” Fuller said.

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The same is true for commuters who use public transportation, Fuller said.

“I would recommend to not touch any railings, seats on public transportation,” she said. “If you must, make certain you do not touch your mouth and nose and clean your hands as soon as you are able. For a long trip, you could consider wiping down your area with Clorox or Lysol wipes.”

The virus has infected more than 89,000 nationwide, and while the majority of cases have occurred in mainland China, there have been several instances of transmission in the U.S., including cases of unknown origin. There have been at least six deaths in Washington state.

One patient in San Antonio, Texas, was released before testing positive and being ordered back into quarantine. The patient reportedly visited several popular areas, raising concerns that even if you are taking precautions, others may still be putting you at risk. But Fuller said there are steps you can take to minimize that risk.

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“We can assure ourselves we are being safe by cleaning all surfaces we have prolonged contact with, and washing hands frequently,” she said.

Even without the threat of coronavirus, Fuller said washing your hands frequently and avoiding touching your mouth and nose are good hygiene practices for smart health.