End of the Corona measures: Which hygiene routines still make sense?

Hygiene, hygiene, hygiene: this determined our everyday life in Corona times – and continues to do so. Even after two years of the pandemic, we regularly wear masks, replace shaking hands with elbow bumps and disinfect diligently.

In the meantime, the incidence of infection is declining again, and the obligation to wear a mask in retail has also fallen. Some already suspect the endemic on the horizon.

Are we going to drop the hygiene routines with this? “Not at all,” says the Berlin specialist in hygiene, Prof. Klaus-Dieter Zastrow.

The Munich infectiologist Prof. Clemens Wendtner is also convinced: “A new hygiene etiquette applies beyond Corona times.”

Mouth and nose protection: Especially important in nursing homes

For Zastrow, it makes sense to continue to have mouth and nose protection at hand: “Where there are many people and possibly standing close together, it makes sense to put on a mask.”

This could be in the elevator or on the bus or train, for example.

Clemens Wendtner believes that wearing a mask will become the “new normal” even at conferences with many participants – especially when there is a cold. It is not necessarily about FFP2 masks, but at least masks made of fabric.

The situation is somewhat different in retirement and nursing homes and in hospitals. “Here it should be an FFP2 mask to protect the residents or the patients,” says Wendtner.

Not only should nurses or doctors wear them over their mouths and noses, but also visitors.

Disinfectant gel: companions on the bus and train

The bottle with disinfectant gel should also remain in the bag.

“Anyone who takes the subway and holds on to a handle that is already used by many people should ideally disinfect their hands after getting off,” says Klaus-Dieter Zastrow.

Anyone who has touched doorknobs or armrests, for example on an airplane, should disinfect their hands with a gel, according to Wendtner, who is the chief physician for infectiology at the Munich Clinic Schwabing.

Speaking of disinfecting: Zastrow recommends cleaning your throat and mouth with a disinfectant rinse every third day. This would inactivate germs and viruses that could be spread by speaking, coughing or singing.

However, the mouthwash that you might still have in the bathroom is not enough: “It should be a limited virucidal mucosal disinfectant,” says Zastrow.

Washing hands: It was always important, and it will remain so

Washing hands is a hygiene routine that was important even before Corona. “However, in the end it only washes away dirt,” explains Zastrow. However, germs and viruses would not be killed, so disinfecting is important.

“Nevertheless, you shouldn’t neglect washing your hands,” says Wendtner. Before and after eating and before and after going to the toilet, it is a must to wash your hands thoroughly with soap.

Keep your distance: Not just for hygiene reasons

The usual distance in the queue in Corona times is still an option – and not just for hygienic reasons.

“It’s just a matter of politeness not to push your neighbor too closely,” says Wendtner.

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Ventilate: Out with the aerosols

Regularly opening the windows, for example in schools or open-plan offices, reduces the risk of corona infection.

“The aerosol concentration in the interior falls as a result of the forced ventilation. Regardless of Covid-19, this is beneficial in terms of health,” says Wendtner. This is easy to implement and also cost-neutral.

Handshake and kiss: What feels good

Instead of the handshake, the fist or elbow bump have established themselves in times of pandemic. “In terms of infectious diseases, it would be good if it stayed that way,” explains Wendtner.

However, in many places it is considered impolite to refuse a handshake. “A compromise could be that you then inconspicuously disinfect your hands with the gel you brought with you,” says Zastrow.

And what about the kiss on the cheek? “Ideally, consider who you’re doing this with,” says Wendtner. If you don’t feel comfortable with it, you should decline politely but firmly.

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