How effective is alcohol hand gel when it comes to killing off coronavirus?

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The advice from health professionals is to wash your hands with soap and water often, and use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available.

But some UK supermarkets have reported a run on stock and have run out of alcohol-based hand gel.

It has been reported that Boots is rationing hand gel to two bottles per customer.

So how effective is it in the fight against coronavirus?

The popularity of hand gels is not just driven by the fear of pandemics, reports the Manchester Evening News.



Government advice is to thoroughly wash your hands to ward off coronavirus
Government advice is to thoroughly wash your hands to ward off coronavirus

They also are heavily targeted at families in child-friendly colours and scents that are a far-cry from the industrial-strength version typically found in hospitals.

Official government advice to protect yourself against the virus is wash your hands.

Wet your hands with clean, running water. Liberally apply soap. Lather your hands, including the backs and between your fingers while not forgetting about the area beneath your nails. Scrub for a minimum of 20 seconds. Rinse and dry.

Hygiene experts, the NHS and Public Health England all agree that to kill most viruses, a hand sanitiser requires a minimum of 60 per cent alcohol content to be most effective. Most contain between 60 per cent and 95 per cent alcohol.

There are alcohol-free versions available for people with particularly sensitive skin.

Viruses are much more resistant to disinfectants than bacteria.

Coronavirus is an envelope virus, meaning it has a coating surrounding it, which the alcohol can attack.

Because coronavirus is a novel illness so no one knows precisely how it is spread.


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NHS said it is likely that it is transmitted through cough droplets spread from person to person and very unlikely that it is spread via objects – such as packages or food.

The public health experts advice is washing hands with soap and water. If this is not possible, then use hand gel, before returning to your home or work place. Avoid touching surfaces you don’t need to – such as door handles.

A virus needs a host to reproduce so that’s why experts advice against touching your eyes, nose or mouth or wounds with unclean hands.

The American Society for Microbiology said that running water and soap to wash hands is more effective than a dab of gel.

Other studies said paper towels are better for drying hands than air dryers.

Meanwhile on Monday, after an emergency Cobra committee meeting in London, Prime Minister Boris Johnson reiterated his call on people to wash their hands thoroughly while singing ‘Happy Birthday’ twice over.

He said: “All four nations of the UK and the chief medical officers are involved in this and they will be helping us to take key decisions on when and how to take protective steps.

“We cannot forget that the single most useful thing that we can all do to support the NHS is to wash our hands, two times to Happy Birthday with hot water.

“It’s very important that people should continue (doing) that and they should go about business as usual.”



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