Dr's Casebook: Covid restrictions are lifted but we still all need to take basic care

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The easing of Covid-19 restrictions in England is dividing opinion.

Dr Keith Souter writes: This is nothing new, since there have been differing views about how we should manage and behave ever since the pandemic started.

The scientific success of the vaccine development and the magnificent vaccine roll-out programme have brought us to this point where it has been deemed reasonable to relax many of the restrictions we have been living with.

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Yet it is important to remain vigilant and for us all to maintain basic sensible precautions.

England has scrapped the last of its Plan B measures. Photo: Getty ImagesEngland has scrapped the last of its Plan B measures. Photo: Getty Images
England has scrapped the last of its Plan B measures. Photo: Getty Images

Two years ago at the start of the pandemic, when we knew virtually nothing about the coronavirus or about how to combat it, the fundamental thing was to try to reduce airborne spread of the virus and encourage good hygiene.

In this column I wrote about hand washing for at least 20 seconds rather than just rinsing under a tap and suggested a few tips about how to reduce touching the face.

New research by the University of Nottingham has found that drivers touch their face 26 times an hour on average, potentially spreading infection, if hand washing is inadequate.

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This is the conclusion of researchers after scrutinising over 30 hours of video footage obtained from two on-road driving studies that involved 36 experienced drivers.

They observed that drivers touched themselves from the shoulder upwards 26.4 times per hour.

Surprisingly, each touch lasted nearly four seconds.

The face itself was touched in 80 per cent of these instances, followed by the hair in ten per cent, then the neck in eight per cent and the shoulders in two per cent.

Of added concern, in 40 per cent of occasions, the mucus membranes of the lips, nose and eyes were touched once every five minutes.

These were usually with the fingertips and thumbs.

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Although you might think that these parts of the hands are cleaned by hand washing they are actually often missed, especially if the person just cursorily rinses the hands.

No difference was noted between the sexes or between the age groups.

This indicates that all drivers are potentially at risk of contamination through face-touching while driving in a road vehicle.

We do still need to take care, both for ourselves and for others, especially when doing things we take for granted.

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