The general public can play a significant role in reducing the spread of the COVID-19 coronavirus, it’s everyone’s responsibility, not just the government’s, and everyone has a role to play.
Epidemic Control is a Community Effort, Why Selfishness is Dangerous!
Since epidemics can affect everyone, the most vulnerable people are the weakest links in the population, which is why everyone needs to look after everyone else. Selfishness is extremely counterproductive!
If greedy people hoard hand sanitizer, tissue paper, toilet paper and protective masks, they leave other without necessary hygiene supplies which reduce virus transmission. If more people get infected by the the COVID-19 coronavirus, everyone is at a much higher risk of becoming infected. We need everyone to have these hygiene products and to be using them regularly, they don’t help anyone stockpiled in some ignorant person’s garage!
In permaculture, an ecological design system, we have three ethical principles which are very relevant in times such as this, care for the people, care for the planet, and only use your fair share of resources, leaving enough for others and sharing the surplus.
By understanding how the COVID-19 coronavirus spreads, and how to counteract all of its paths of transmission through all the hygiene and disinfection methods available, we’re better able to contribute to the control of this global epidemic.
How the COVID-19 Coronavirus Spreads
This COVID-19 coronavirus has various means of transmission, in this article we will look at each one in detail and discuss available controls.
Respiratory droplets in the air
The COVID-19 coronavirus is mainly spread through respiratory droplets in the air, which are produced when people cough or sneeze, and these tiny droplets suspended in the air carrying the virus can remain viable for up to three hours.
What You Can Do:
- The first way to minimise this risk is social distancing, keeping a safe distance away from people. The suggested distance is 1.5m in Australia and 6’ (1.8m) in the US.
- The second ways to minimise this risk is to use a respirator mask with a Australia/NZ rating of P2 or P3 (equivalent US rating of N95 or N99). Note: surgical masks to do filter out small droplets in the air which carry bacteria and viruses, they are ineffective, and are only suitable for covering the coughs of infected patients.In some cities in China, everyone is required to wear masks when going out in public, even if they’re healthy, in order to reduce the possibility of people who may be infected but don’t know it coughing or sneezing out the virus into the air and infecting others.
- The third is to to minimise this risk is by sneezing and coughing into a tissue or your elbow.
Contact with infected people
The COVID-19 coronavirus can remain viable on contaminated surfaces for hours to days depending on the material, so people are advised not to touch their faces and mouths, especially after touching items and surfaces in public areas.
What You Can Do:
- The first way to minimise this risk is by washing hands regularly, with soap and water, for at least twenty seconds. Hands should always be washed in the following instances:
> After blowing one’s nose, coughing, or sneezing
> After using the restroom
> Before eating or preparing food
> After contact with animals or pets
> Before and after providing routine care for another person who needs assistance (e.g., a child)
- If hand-washing facilities are not available, the recommendation is to use hand sanitiser which contains at least 60% alcohol.
- Avoid touching your face, especially mouth and eyes.
- Stay home if you think you might be sick, and consult with a healthcare professional..
- Another way of minimising this risk is to disinfect surfaces. A study by researchers from the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Princeton University and UCLA published in The New England Journal of Medicine suggests the coronavirus is viable in aerosols such as respiratory droplets in the air when someone coughs or sneezes for up to three hours. If a person infected with the COVID-19 coronavirus coughs on or touches a surface, it can become contaminated, and the virus was found to be viable on surfaces such as plastic and stainless steel for up to two to three days, on cardboard up to 24 hours. and on copper up to four hours, all which suggests that people could become infected through the air and after touching contaminated objects.The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommends daily disinfection for frequently touched surfaces such as tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, handles, desks, phones, keyboards, toilets, faucets and sinks.
Disinfection of surfaces can be carried out using the following, which need to be in contact with the surface or item for 30 seconds to a minute to be effective:
> 0.1% sodium hypochlorite (diluted household bleach)
> alcohol solutions with at least 70% alcohol
> hydrogen peroxide with a concentration of at least 0.5%
Note – use an appropriate disinfectant for the surface being treated to avoid damaging it!
Please see the section below for more information on how to use disinfectants.
Yes, COVID-19 coronavirus may spread through poo! According to Chinese researchers, COVID-19 coronavirus is shed in the faeces of infected people, which may help explain why it has spread so fast. So, to not be too blunt about it, good toilet hygiene practices are very important to prevent the spread of the virus.
What You Can Do:
- Wash your hands after using the bathroom.
- Use good toilet hygiene practices, and toilet paper is an integral part of that.
How Dilute and Use Disinfectants for COVID-19 Coronavirus Control
The following instructions explain how to dilute and use bleach, alcohol and hydrogen peroxide for disinfection.
Why dilute disinfectants? They go further and last longer, which is important when there are shortages, and alcohol works better diluted.
The required concentration for disinfection is 0.1% sodium hypochlorite, to dilute common household bleach for COVID-19 coronavirus the US CDC, recommends preparing a bleach solution by mixing:
- US imperial measurements – 5 tablespoons (1/3rd cup) bleach per (US liquid) gallon of water or 4 teaspoons bleach per quart of water
- metric measurements – 4 teaspoons (20ml) bleach per litre of water
Once bleach is mixed with water, use it within 24 hours, as its disinfecting ability fades with time.
Non-porous items such as plastic toys can be immersed in diluted bleach for 30 seconds to disinfect them.
Leave diluted bleach solution on household surfaces that won’t be damaged by it for 10 minutes or more to disinfect.
Don’t use diluted bleach in place of hand sanitizer or to wash your hands, as it’s very harsh on the skin.
Various alcohol solutions, such as ethanol (methylated spirits), or isopropyl alcohol (rubbing alcohol) with at least 70% alcohol can be used for COVID-19 coronavirus disinfection.
For alcohol to be an effective disinfectant, in needs to be in contact with a surface or item for at least 30 seconds. The reason not to use pure (100%) alcohol is because evaporates too quickly for this purpose.
100% alcohol can be diluted with water to make 70% alcohol, just combine 700ml of alcohol with 300ml of water to make up a litre of 70% alcohol solution.
Solutions of 70% alcohol must be kept in a sealed bottle to prevent evaporation, and can be stored, the potency doesn’t fade away with time like it does with diluted bleach.
Don’t use 70% alcohol in place of hand sanitizer or to wash your hands, as it’s very harsh on the skin.
Making Your Own Hand Sanitizer With Rubbing Alcohol
The final hand sanitizer formulation needs to contain 60% or more alcohol to be effective.
To make your own hand sanitizer, mix the following ingredients into a bowl in the proportions listed:
- 2/3-cup of Rubbing alcohol (99% isopropyl alcohol)
- 1/3-cup of Aloe vera gel
Stir the ingredients together to mix them, then pour into a clean squeeze or pump bottle.
This creates a mix of 66.6% alcohol to 33.3% Aloe vera gel. If you have isopropyl alcohol which is les than 99%, use proportionately less Aloe vera gel.
The required concentration for effective disinfection of surface is at least 0.5% hydrogen peroxide.
The hydrogen peroxide solutions sold are usually around 3%, and can be used straight or diluted to 0.5% concentration. To dilute 3% hydrogen peroxide to a 0.5% solution, add 10ml (2 teaspoons) to 50ml of water to make 60ml of 0.5% hydrogen peroxide solution, or 100ml to 500ml (0.5L) of water.
Leave hydrogen peroxide solutions on surfaces for one minute before wiping off to disinfect them properly.