Top tips for good hygiene during Covid-19
As an independent Chartered Environmental Health Practitioner (EHP), no day is ever the same for me. Chartered EHPs are trained as holistic practitioners in public health. Our roles cover food safety, health and safety, infectious disease control, pollution, housing and anything else to do with broader public health. Our motto is ‘Friend of the human race’, and because of the current pandemic we have seen a significant increase in demand for our services.
"Try to keep a selection of face coverings, so that you have a spare when your others are being washed." - Lisa Ackerley
When Covid-19 became headline news, I received a lot of requests from the press to help clarify issues that consumers were grappling with and wanted practical guidance on. This was because I have worked with the media for many years on all sorts of programmes, including Watchdog, Rogue Restaurants, Secret Tourist and Rip off Britain. This quickly became quite exhausting, and even though I shared the work with my colleague Professor Sally Bloomfield at the International Scientific Forum on Home Hygiene, where I am a Trustee and adviser, we were working flat out.
So I wrote a series of blogs under the name of The Hygiene Doctor, to help inform the public. Here are my top tips for practising good hygiene during Covid-19:
- Keep your distance – two metres or more if possible is still best.
- Wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds before leaving the house and as soon as you arrive at your destination. You can use a hand sanitiser if a basin is not available.
- Use a face covering when using public transport or when shopping, and make sure it covers your face and mouth, otherwise it is not effective.
- When putting on and taking off your face covering, make sure your hands are clean and keep it off your face as you remove it.
- Try to keep a selection of face coverings, so that you have a spare when your others are being washed.
- Don’t wear gloves. They still pick up germs and are not effective unless you change them after each task. It is much safer to wash your hands or use a sanitiser.
- Disinfect surfaces that come in to contact with your hands, such as door handles, and do this regularly if you have a lot of people in your household.
- Don’t rub your eyes, nose or mouth with dirty hands.
- Sneeze or cough into the crook of your arm if you don’t have a tissue.
- Don’t drop your guard, the virus is still there.
My Churchill Fellowship was awarded whilst I was a university lecturer, after my boss alerted me to the Trust. I travelled to the USA and Canada to investigate food safety control systems, in particular something called Hazard Analysis Critical Control Points (HACCP), which had been developed in the USA for the NASA space programme. (The idea is that you don’t put astronauts at risk of food poisoning, which is not good in zero gravity or a space suit.)
This gave me a considerable boost to help launch my career as an adviser to industry, and I worked with central government whilst this concept was being brought into legislation as a requirement for all businesses at some level.
Most recently I have been working as an adviser to the hospitality industry, specifically for the trade association UK Hospitality. As part of this work, I have produced guidance notes for businesses that were still open during lockdown, such as hospitals that were catering for key workers and school kitchens. As lockdown eases, this guidance has been modified to reflect the ‘new normal’, and I have produced a risk assessment tool kit for those businesses that need help to develop their Covid-19 risk assessment. Risk assessment is very similar to HACCP, because it applies a logical approach to safety.
My latest TV appearance was on ITV’s This Morning where I visited a public toilet in Sidmouth that was reopening and talked about hygienic use of toilets. That was bizarre in itself – but imagine my surprise when friends messaged me to say it was on Celebrity Gogglebox! I think it’s safe to say that hygiene has certainly become popular.
The views and opinions expressed by any Fellow are those of the Fellow and not of the Churchill Fellowship or its partners, which have no responsibility or liability for any part of them.