What are fomites? Inanimate objects that form a secondary route of exposure for person-to-person transmissions. Any object that we may come in contact with can serve as fomites, doorknobs, elevator buttons, hand rails, phones, cab doors, keyboards, toys, even clothing.
Respiratory droplets are propelled into the air by sneezing and coughing. The aerosol generated by coughing and sneezing contain droplets of moisture of varying sizes laden with pathogens. The largest droplets are more likely to fall to the floor. Medium sized ones are more likely to enter the nasal passages of someone nearby, causing infection. The moisture in the smallest particles tends to evaporate rapidly, resulting in the formation of so-called droplet nuclei, which are light and can remain airborne for longer periods. These can travel from room to room or through ventilation ducts; owing to their small size and weight, their movement is mostly dictated by air currents, and, if inhaled, they can flow with inhaled air far down the respiratory tract, reaching the alveoli. Respiratory droplets can also contaminate inanimate objects (fomites) via coughing or sneezing or by transform from hands contaminated with a sneeze or cough. Ergo, one can become infected by touching a person or inanimate object that is contaminated and then rubbing one's eyes or allowing the infectious particles to enter the nose or mouth.
While aerial fumigation of closed spaces and surface disinfection of hard tops are a good preventive measure but it neither eliminates the source nor is it possible on a larger scale. Needless to say, hand washing is the single most effective way to prevent the spread of infections.
There is no rule per se when to wash your hands, however WHO recommends the following instances with priority:
- After coughing and sneezing
- Tending the sick
- Before, during and after food preparation
- After toilet use
- Hands visibly dirty
- After handling animals/ animal waste
Alcohol based Hand Sanitizer – Why?
Alcohol based Hand Sanitizer (ABHS) rapidly inhibits the infectious activities of microbial agents present on skin surfaces with contact basis. The alcohol present in the formulation directly attacks the cell wall of these microorganisms, rupturing them completely before charging into membrane wall and nucleus rendering them harmless. With a low boiling point, the exothermic reaction evaporates these chemical residues, taking away germs with them. Independent of water and towel, it provides a reliable and prolonged antimicrobial effect. With added emollients and moisturizers, it even enhances skin hydration.
“As the COVID-19 outbreak continues to evolve, comparisons have been drawn to influenza. Firstly, COVID-19 and influenza viruses have a similar disease presentation. That is, they both cause respiratory disease, which presents as a wide range of illness from asymptomatic or mild through to severe disease and death. Secondly, both viruses are transmitted by contact, droplets and fomites. As a result, the same public health measures, such as hand hygiene and good respiratory etiquette (coughing into your elbow or into a tissue and immediately disposing of the tissue), are important actions all can take to prevent infection.”, World Health Organization