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Ruth Tangiaau Mavé: Better to wash hands than to wring hands

Monday January 13, 2020 Written by Published in Opinion
The movie Contagion shows the spread of a pathogen virus from a contaminated food source. 20011213 The movie Contagion shows the spread of a pathogen virus from a contaminated food source. 20011213

OPINION: Drastic times call for drastic measures and it often comes in the most, dire of times where there is no other way, no other hope, but to condemn, contain or survive.

Collecting stool samples from food handlers is one of those drastic moves up there with the chlorination of our water: it’s so extreme it begs the question of our Health Ministry, why do they think only in absolutes? Have they been listening to Chicken Little about the sky falling? Where is the plague?

Prevention is better than cure, agreed, but “stool samples”, really? The simple reality to health in our country is easily achieved if everyone (not only food handlers, but the whole community) was taught to wash their hands before and after handling food or sick people or animals.

And cover your mouth when coughing and sneezing. Every time, all the time.

The movie Contagion, starring Gwyneth Paltrow and Mark Wahlberg, shows the spread of a pathogen virus from a contaminated food source. Hollywood goes to its extreme in ferocity and speed across the country but it concludes the source of the problem was coming from a chef cutting up a “bat poop” contaminated pig.

He comes to meet and greet Gwyneth, rubs his hands on his apron and shakes hands with her.

She uses her hand to eat some dish, gets sick, coughs on a plane with the recirculated air, on the way she loses her mobile phone, it’s retrieved by another who picks up the bug. He goes to the movies and sneezes without covering his mouth spraying those in front of him, eating popcorn and on and on it goes.

It’s long been known that simple hygiene practices of washing hands can stop the spread of many diseases.

Florence Nightingale is remembered for her marvellous work in saving many soldiers in the war, because she employed basic sanitary practices in the treatment of the wounded.

She ensured all attending physicians and nurses had clean hands and cleaned their hands between tending to soldiers. And the beds and sheets were cleaned regularly – simple acts that saved many lives.

In our community many important hygiene acts ignored.

In cafes, staff serving food go to the toilet wearing their apron, they come out and wipe their hands on their apron not a towel, then return to serving food. People take their phones into the loo with them, these do not get washed. People cough and sneeze over food displays and buffets without covering their mouths.

Nurses, both hospital and dentistry, are seen walking around outside in their work clothes, after they have attended sick patients all day.

Pre-1965 under New Zealand guidance, the halls and rooms of the hospital and dentist were spotlessly clean. Nurses had to leave their uniform so it could be industrially washed and prepared for when they returned. 

It makes perfect sense: they prevented bringing home medically soiled clothing to their domestic washing machines to mix in with the clothes of their children and family.

The state of our public toilets and those in the work places outside of the tourist resorts are cesspools for disease often unclean with no soap or towels and the floors, walls and doors are never cleaned.

You can wash your hands then have it undone, by touching a contaminated handle from the person before who didn’t wash.

If every man woman and child washed their hands with soap, singing “Happy birthday” (the recommended time), we would easily prevent the spread of many diseases, without having to give a sh**.