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Fighting against Covid-19 as a community

Maintaining good hand hygiene continues to be one of the most effective ways to help prevent a second wave

Unilever's soap makers play a key role in the continuing fight against Covid-19. PHOTO: UNILEVER
Unilever's soap makers play a key role in the continuing fight against Covid-19. PHOTO: UNILEVER

Medical professionals in Singapore have been fighting a constant battle against the pandemic by keeping our healthcare system operating effectively. But there are many others who have also been working hard alongside the healthcare industry to curb the outbreak.

These unsung heroes range from cleaners to the soap makers of Lifebuoy — a household name owned by multinational consumer goods company Unilever, one of the largest manufacturers of soap and personal care products.

To date, vaccine trials have not produced a stable and effective solution, and until that happens, soap is the best conduit to reducing the number of community infections through good hand hygiene.

Being the world’s number one-selling antibacterial soap1, Lifebuoy aims to ensure that households have access to this simple, germ-removal product. And as the demand for soap increases, Lifebuoy’s soap makers are an important part of this mission.

Thanks to their dedication, Lifebuoy has improved the hand-washing behaviours of one billion people through a hand-washing programme that started a decade ago.

How can we help Lifebuoy — as well as our unsung heroes — with their mission as a community? For a start, we should practice good hand hygiene at all times.

Make good hand hygiene your new normal

Here is why good hand hygiene is extremely important: There are everyday moments where we could unknowingly pick up bacteria and spread it to our loved ones.

Thus it’s important to wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before you eat, after you’ve been outside and after using the toilet.

According to the World Health Organization, hand-washing with soap and water is an effective and accessible way to help reduce the spread of Covid-19.

Mr. Samir Singh, executive vice-president, Global Skin Cleansing at Unilever, says “the effectiveness of soap against viruses stems from the fact that enveloped viruses — which includes Sars-CoV-2, the strain that’s causing the Covid-19 pandemic — have a jacket made up of lipids and proteins that allows them to exist and helps them to enter human cells when your hands touch your face”.

Water alone, says Mr Singh, cannot eliminate these viruses, which bind to human skin “like glue”. However, soapy water will help wash the virus away, as soap “cleverly targets and interferes with the enveloped virus’ outer membrane so it cannot bind to the skin”.


The community of soap makers at Unilever doing their part to help curb the outbreak. PHOTO: UNILEVER

Keeping our loved ones safe

Practising good hand hygiene starts at home. Getting our families on board with this routine will help prevent them from picking up viruses outside.

To encourage good hand hygiene in children, parents or guardians can break the process down to five simple steps: wet, lather, scrub, rinse and dry. It also helps to make this a fun experience — adults can teach children a catchy hand-washing song, or make hand-washing a game.

Parents and guardians should also lead by example and frequently remind their child to wash his or her hands.

Caregivers of seniors should guide them to wash their hands when needed. It can be tricky convincing them to pick up this new habit, but explaining the importance of the routine could encourage them to embrace it.

Caregivers should also ensure that they themselves practise regular hand washing with soap, and inform visitors to do the same when they step into the house.

The simple rules of hand-washing

By now, most of us are familiar with the steps involved in proper hand-washing, but it doesn’t hurt to have a refresher. Here is the breakdown:

  • Use soap
  • Remove any hand or arm jewellery
  • Scrub the front and back of your hands, between your fingers and under your nails
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly with a rubbing motion for a minimum 20 seconds under running water
  • If you are in a public restroom, turn the tap off with a paper towel and use the same paper towel to open the door when leaving

Proper hand hygiene extends to drying your hands properly after washing them. As germs thrive on moist surfaces, avoid wiping your hands on a damp cloth. Give common hand towels a miss and stick to disposable ones, or use a hand dryer instead.

It takes a community to stem a pandemic. Staying vigilant, avoiding complacency and ensuring the continuity of good hand hygiene could help prevent a second wave from happening in Singapore.

Doing so not only protects ourselves and our loved ones, but also salutes our silent army of soap makers.

For more information and tips on good hand hygiene, visit Lifebuoy’s Facebook page.

Footnotes:
1 Calculation based on Nielsen unit sales information for the total markets (approximately 40 countries), latest 12 months available. Details available upon request.