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Tuesday, October 4, 2022

COVID-19 Explainer: Why your hair and shoes may infect you with the virus

The novel coronavirus is on the uptick and it appears we may have to learn to live with the virus as we continue to navigate this tumultuous journey and remain cautious. In this explainer, we put together a few issues which are on the minds of many but with little or no mitigating measures. We will discuss and present expert views on the protocols regarding people who may fall sick during this period.

How do I safely take care of someone who’s sick?

Sicknesses are always difficult to bear with, especially for treasured ones. In order not to compromise ones’ safety while taking care of loved ones, medical experts and the Centres for Disease Prevention suggest the following measures.

  • Giving the sick person a separate room. if possible; keep the door closed.
  • Having only one person serve as the caretaker.
  • Asking the sick person to wear a face mask, if they are able to. If the mask causes breathing difficulties, then the caretaker should wear a mask instead.
  • Call their doctor if the person keeps getting sicker. For medical emergencies, it is advisable to call the Ghana Health Service and the Ambulance Service.

And while at it, it is important to keep the surfaces safe by using disinfectants which contain 75% ethanol and chloroform.

Can coronavirus stay in my hair or in a beard? How about shoes?

As part of our everyday healthy living and responsible lifestyle, we are expected to keep our hair neat and our shoes shinny enough for work. Many have speculated that the virus can stick on the hair and on the sole of our shoes, which may end up infecting us. So, what should we do?

Should we keep the shoes outside when we get back from work? How about the hair?

Medical expert at the Vanderbilt University Medical Centre Dr. David Aronoff said coronavirus hairs can stick to hair.  Dr. Arnoff in an interview with CNN said touching one’s hair and then touching other parts of the body like the mouth, eyes and nose could increase the risk of infection.

“Like on the skin, this coronavirus is a transient hitchhiker that can be removed by washing.”

Another expert Dr Hadley King said this does not mean that one has to wash their natural hair every day.

“Living hair attached to our scalps may be better protected by our natural oils that have some antimicrobial properties and may limit how well microbes can attach to the hair.”

“If you are going out into areas that could possibly be contaminated with viral particles, then it would be reasonable to wash the hair daily during the pandemic. But it’s not the same as hand washing – the virus infects us through our mucosal surfaces. If your hair is not falling into your face or you’re not running your fingers through it, then there is less of a risk,” she added.

If your hair does fall into your face, you may want to pull it back to minimize your risk, King said. Regarding shoes, a CDC report in a hospital in Wuhan China stated that shoes can pick and distribute the coronavirus despite the low risk it poses.

The study, which was conducted with swabbed and analysed shoes of medical workers from the lab found that the virus was “widely distributed” on floors, computer mice, trash cans, and door knobs. But it’s important to note the study was done in a hospital, where the virus was concentrated.

Experts have however allayed fears that one is unlikely to get sick from it because people don’t often touch the soles of their shoes and then their faces. Because Covid-19 is a respiratory disease, the CDC advises wearing a mask while in public and washing your hands frequently– the correct way.

To remain safe, experts say you may want to get your shoe rack disinfected once in a while.

This story was supported by Journalists for Human Rights under the Mobilizing Media to Fighting COVID-19  project.

Edited by Zubaida Mabuno Ismail.

www.zamireports.com|Ghana.

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