Covid is not done with us


The hands are the most versatile parts of the human body, being the organs responsible for the widest variety of tasks you can imagine. The hands are used for touching, cleaning and feeling. They are used also for the washing of all the other parts of the body. Without the hands, therefore, we cannot keep the remaining parts of the body clean. We employ the hands to lift objects, carry our young and to take our material possessions from one area to another. Often, the hands are employed in determining what surfaces can hurt us and as organs of groping.

In the latter mode, the hands are used in feeling our way especially in dimly lit places and very importantly, in an environment such as ours where power can be taken without warning. Among the visually impaired members of the society, the hands play an indispensable role in helping to move around. They serve as the early warning organ on which every step taken depends.

Once more, the unique role these appendages play in our daily lives has become important, in the light of reports of a resurgence of the Covid-19 in some parts of the world. Australia is presently preparing for a new wave of the virus, their fifth wave. There are reports of a rise in the number of cases in the United States and elsewhere.

As of today, health authorities and scientists there say they are racing to study the new variant of the virus called BA.2.86 after this mutated variant was seen spreading in multiple countries and three US states. Currently, it is called “Pirola” on social media but the World Health Organisation has made it known that it will change the name of the variant to a Greek alphabet once it thinks it has become a variant of concern. The known features of this variant are neck pain, chill, dry cough, headache and body weakness. These are very different from the earlier attacks of this infection. Due to the very ubiquitous nature of our hands, they come in contact with all kinds of objects and surfaces with the potential that their contribution to the disease burden of any person can be immense. Since it is the washing machine for every other part of the body, it is even more imperative that we find ways to keep them clean so as not to transfer the microbes found in the anus, for example, to the face or the mouth. It is these unique aspects of its abilities that make the hands such a ready mechanism for the transmission of diseases. As a result, it is the responsibility of everyone to be able to break this connection between those functions and the causation of diseases. The simplest and most effective way to achieve this is to keep the hands clean. That may seem like a contradiction in terms because of the range of activities we often require the hands to perform.

It has become important to learn some of these characteristics of the hands again because it is feared that this new strain of the virus could be more deadly than the previous ones. More to the point is the fact that sub-Saharan Africa got off lightly the last time; it could be radically different this time for a number of reasons. First, the infrastructural problems of concern that made leaders really afraid for the continent’s populace have even worsened. Clean water, for example, remains a scarce resource. Secondly, people have generally forgotten the lessons they imbibed in 2020 and now carry on as if that event was in another age. Therefore, we shall examine the situations in which the hands can be kept clean in order to meet the desired objectives of keeping diseases away from the body.

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The first set of conditions for achieving this is in the area of food, which perhaps is the most common activity involving the hands and which has the potential to propagate infections. Therefore, before cooking, during the process and afterwards, the hands must be washed with soap and water to prevent the transmission of germs from the food into our mouths using the hands as the vehicle.

Now, the food is ready for consumption and the hands must once again be washed clean with soap and water before the eating is commenced. This must be made a habit of, and the amount of washing the hands get to receive can never be too much. Today, as concerns mount about the possible return of Covid-19, such hand washing efforts must be deliberate, properly carried out and detailed enough to last for a minimum of 20 seconds. That does not only hold true today for the Covid-19 virus but for a host of infections as well in which the hands play a serious role in their spread. So, before eating any type of food at all, please wash your hands. And after the food has been consumed, wash those hands again. And food refers to fruits and snacks which many people consume with abandon at bus stops and inside public vehicles after their hands have touched all sorts of surfaces within the buses, in particular, and taxis as well, not to mention the terribly dirty seat frames in those buses and the railings of the pedestrian bridges. The dirtiness of those surfaces must be as bad as that of an averagely used toilet at home.

Similarly, the hands must be washed carefully with soap and water after using the toilet. That goes without question and many people more readily relate to this need than to the similar need in the paragraph above. Both are equally hazardous and should attract similar attention. Even in children, babies to be specific, who need to have their diapers changed, it is a must to wash your hands after such changes are made. Whether the baby has used diapers that need to be changed or it is a child who has used the toilet or potty, the necessary cleaning effort must be accompanied by the washing of the hands in a proper manner using soap and water. In many homes, one has seen mothers clean up a baby who has passed some stool and head straight into the kitchen to continue their cooking. Some do not consider it possible that infections can be contracted from a baby’s stool. Occasionally, within our homes, we may be forced to take care of people around us who fall sick. These incidents frequently occur during the night and whether they are our parents who are ill in that fashion or our children, it is important to wash the hands properly before and after caring for them. When their ailments involve stooling and vomiting, that is of particular importance. By washing your hands before touching them, you are making sure that you are not adding to their disease burden by adding some other organisms already resident in your own hands.

Evidently, after handling them through the episodes of diarrhoea and vomiting, it is imperative that you properly wash your hands so as to protect yourself from contracting the organisms responsible for their condition. You must also wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water after touching garbage which many of us here more commonly refer to as refuse. Such waste teems with bacteria and other organisms and it is quite easy to contract infections from that. Similar attention deserves to be paid to the hands after touching animals either accidentally or deliberately. It does not matter whether these are domestic animals or pets or wild animals. That is equally important if you have touched animal waste either by accident or intentionally. Better still, use hand gloves if there is access to that.

Finally, after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing into your hands, it is imperative that you wash your hands clean with soap and water. It is common to see people outdoors who blow their nose into their surroundings and wipe their nostrils with their fingers. Without washing those hands, they approach doors in public buildings, offices and banks and touch door handles, door frames and doorknobs and enter. They leave droplets on all those surfaces for other unwary people to touch with the potential for contracting all sorts of infections. People who handle such structures anywhere must wash their hands with soap and water in order to remain safe. ,

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