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Soap power: stop sickness spreading

6 April 2020

You may have heard recently that you should sing ‘Happy birthday to you’ twice, or the chorus of ‘I will survive’, while washing your hands.

The importance of proper handwashing to prevent the coronavirus has been emphasised by many health authorities.

But taking enough time to wash your hands helps prevent the spread of many infectious illnesses. This includes, of course, coronavirus but also influenza, gastroenteritis and the common cold.

So what does it mean to wash your hands properly?

The Australian Government says: “Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds to prevent passing on germs. Dry your hands.”

For step-by-step instructions, see: the World Health Organisation’s chart.

Why handwashing?

COVID-19 (coronavirus) appears to spread mainly via droplets from someone who is infected. These droplets are expelled through coughing and sneezing and can land on surfaces.

When someone else touches one of these surfaces and then touches their face, eats or similar without washing their hands, they can be infected too.

This virus seems to be particularly susceptible to soap and water. Alcohol-based hand sanitiser is another good option.

If your hands are getting dry from increased washing, use a moisturiser afterwards.

How to teach children

Making it fun and memorable always helps.

There are many handwashing songs and videos out there for children. If you choose one, make sure it covers all the basics. ‘Washy, washy clean’ is one such example.

Modelling good hand hygiene yourself, as an educator, teacher and/or parent is also really important—particularly now.

Stay informed

The situation with coronavirus is constantly changing. Please stay informed via reputable channels. These include:

For more information: