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Wash your hands and catch coughs and sneezes for a healthier festive season

22 December 2022

Soap hands under a running tap

Public Health officials in West and North Northamptonshire are advising residents to 'up their hygiene game' ahead of Christmas and New Year festivities in a bid to ward off infections and viruses currently circulating locally.

Handwashing regularly and covering your nose or mouth when you sneeze or cough may seem obvious, but they remain important yet simple methods of keeping the spread of lots of viruses at bay. This is particularly important at this time of year when we are spending more time indoors together.

Clean water is something we perhaps take for granted. However, handwashing is still a vital public health intervention to help prevent the spread of illness.

Hands are the gateway viruses use to enter your body, for example touching a contaminated surface and then your eyes, nose or mouth. This leaves us open to all sorts of bacteria and viruses.

For many in Northamptonshire food will play an important part in celebrating the festive season with families, friends, and communities, so protect yourself and others by washing hands thoroughly and regularly, especially when preparing food, and before eating it.

The simplest, most effective way is to simply wash hands thoroughly with soap using running water then drying them.

“Coughing and sneezing increases the number of particles released by a person. as well as the distance those particles travel, and the time they stay suspended in the air. An infected person who coughs or sneezes without covering their mouth or nose significantly increases the risk of infecting others around them.

"Cover your nose and mouth when you sneeze or cough using a disposable tissue then dispose of the used tissue in a bin as soon as you can, then and wash your hands thoroughly, or use a hand sanitiser. If you don’t have a tissue sneeze or cough into the crook of your elbow, not into your hand.

"Sanitising your hands is a good temporary measure after coughing or sneezing but should only be used as a short-term alternative to thoroughly washing your hands.

"Washing your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds kills most germs, including those responsible for sickness bugs like norovirus which aren’t killed by sanitiser.”
Dr Annapurna Sen, Consultant in Health Protection for North Northamptonshire and West Northamptonshire Councils

Following this basic hygiene advice will let you enjoy the festivities safely, and also protect those you care about.

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