The Friendly Germaphobe

Yup. That’s me. I’ve started a series on my Instagram on hygiene tips amidst the craziness surrounding COVID-19. I’m not a medical professional and I don’t claim to be one; but I have done a lot of research (beyond American media) on this pandemic. I’m simply someone who doesn’t want anyone to get sick.

I stocked up on some cleaning supplies and created a routine for myself ever since the first case was confirmed in NYC. I knew it was coming, no matter how many people told me I was ‘overreacting.’ I’ve dealt with SARS before. I know the drill. We don’t have to panic about this virus, but we can take it seriously. The government and CDC have downplayed it for too long. The lack of testing is extremely concerning. There is a prediction that over 150 million Americans will be sick with the virus, so the only thing that is in our control is to increase our hygienic practices.

I want us to try and stop nitpicking at other people if they have alternative hygienic practices. Stop disputing me. Let’s not argue. I’m just here to bring a fresh perspective. The only way we’re going to get through this, is if we LISTEN to & learn from each other.

So here are my top tips to help you achieve optimal hygiene that’s more than “wash your hands with soap for 20 seconds,” because it would be silly to think that was the only way to prevent us from getting the COVID-19.

Take your shoes off before you step into your apartment

We all know that the virus can spread via droplets of saliva & mucus. Do you also know what New Yorkers love to do? Spit in the streets. When you walk around your home in your shoes, you are spreading an insane amount of germs, & who’s to say you won’t step on the spit of someone who has the virus? If you walk around barefoot after, you’ll take the virus to bed with you.

Spray your shoes

In addition to taking off your shoes, spray your shoes with 70% rubbing alcohol every time you come home. & try to leave your shoes outside your apartment.

Spray your clothes

Spray your clothes with disinfectant spray before putting it into your laundry basket, do your laundry more often & change out of your outside clothes immediately once you go home. The virus has been shown that it lingers in air for a couple hours, & on surfaces for a couple of days. If you’re in a dense city, your clothes have most likely come into contact with virus one way or another. So change immediately to avoid any possible germs getting into your home.

Wipe down your phone

Wipe down your phone with 70% isopropyl alcohol prep pads. We’re on our phones so much during our commute. But we are also using the same hand to hold our phone as the one that touched the unsanitised handrail while the train was in motion earlier. Did you know that the MTA used to sanitise the stations every 72 hours? They’re stepping it up to twice a day. But that’s not nearly enough during times like this, in my opinion.

Latex/plastic gloves

I’ve been finding huge success wearing plastic/latex gloves. I usually keep the gloves on for everything except every time I use my phone or have to touch my face for whatever reason. This provides a distinct separation between gloves vs. bare hands, which can help greatly in making sure you’re not touching your face or your phone with germ-filled hands. You just need to be very clear on what that distinction is. Make sure your hands are clean to begin with. Gloves are nice because you can equally sanitise them and wash them with soap and water. Plus, they’re re-usable after you clean them.

Wear glasses

In addition to contracting the virus through inhaling the particles or direct touch, the virus can infect you through the eyes if someone coughs or sneezes next to you. Having eyewear will provide more protection. Make sure to also sanitise your glasses when you get home with prep pads, or soap & water if you do wear them out.

The big controversy…masks

I’ve been wearing masks around the city even though everyone says “you should only wear your mask when you’re sick.” Let’s go back & look at what we know. The incubation period for this virus is 2-14 days. You will not show symptoms during that period or at all if you’re lucky, but you can still spread it around & give it to everyone you see even without knowing you have it. So how would you know if you’re sick to begin with until you show symptoms? Well by then, it’s too late, isn’t it? You would’ve probably given it to everyone you were in close quarters with. The masks are really more for other people. Masks will account for the asymptomatic carriers of COVID-19. The only way I’m willing to hang out with someone is to wear a mask that has filtration efficiency. This is why I wish that everyone wore masks in NYC. This alone can most likely prevent the rate of spread in such a highly dense city, such as Hong Kong.  Masks are also a fantastic solution if you’re someone who touches their face constantly. If you decide to wear a mask (or can get your hands on any), make sure you know how to wear one/take it off.

For those who are adamant on telling me that surgical/medical masks don’t have protective functions, that it doesn’t filter viruses… there is actually a research study that concluded in the findings that “In an oft-cited study of 446 nurses, researchers found surgical masks were as good, or nearly as good, at protecting the wearer against flu as respirators, a somewhat more high-tech, mask-like device used in hospitals…The work of Australian investigators provides further support for the value of the simple surgical mask. They estimate that in a home setting, wearing a surgical mask decreases a well person’s risk of getting sick by 60 percent to 80 percent.”

While the masks aren’t the end all be all, since finer virus particles can’t be filtered out, it certainly acts as an extra layer of protection. You just have to make sure that your masks are 3-ply, have BFE/VFE/PFE, PM2.5 & any type of filtration efficiency (I recently bought a nanofilter mask but I’m not sure how successful it is in blocking out virus particles because the research is limited on this specific product, but I attached it anyway if you want to purchase it). Fabric masks & scarves don’t work.

N95/99’s work best because they seal your face. If you can’t find any, I recently ordered mine from O2 Canada along with their filters. I understand everyone’s concern with the shortage for medical professionals, which is why you should avoid buying the actual N95/99’s & go for alternatives instead which serve the same purpose.

Wipe your dog’s paws & snout

Very similar to the theory of why we don’t wear shoes around the house, this is important for dog-owners. Get their paws, snout, & butts. I use Green Tea Wipes as well as Dry Doggy Shampoo.

I acknowledge that I’m a germaphobe through and through; this is definitely overboard. But if you incorporate 2-3 tips from this, I promise you that a hygienic lifestyle will only help you in the long run. Stay healthy!
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