As novel coronavirus (COVID-19) cases rise in Zambia, people are beginning to wear the same pair of disposable gloves for long periods in public to purportedly reduce their risk of acquiring or spreading infection. From shop workers to politicians, to national security officers like the police, to food handlers, to business and corporate security guards, to bankers, to corporates and the list goes on. The question is, is this right? And he answer is a BIG NO!!! Here is why;
Gloves usually offer the user a wrong sense of safety, and mostly can even lead to an increase in the chances of spreading or acquiring the infection, as they discourage users from regularly washing their hands. Users feel once they wear a pair of gloves on their hands, hand washing is rendered unnecessary… WRONG!!! The major problem with gloves, especially the common powdered latex examination gloves is that they carry a reservoir of germs which unwittingly may be deposited on other parts of your body, your clothes, your cell phone as well as other gadgets such as computer keyboards and on different objects which you later touch. Plus, people who wear gloves still have a tendency to touch their face, which is the main or easiest way of spreading COVID-19. Can you imagine the risk of COVID 19 spread with a scenario where you have a single security guard screening all the clients entering a bank while wearing a single pair of gloves for the whole day? Or worse still an airport official screening incoming passengers wearing the same pair of gloves the whole day if such a one was infected or contaminated? Don’t ask me if this is the current scenario on the ground…. But I can tell you, I have seen worse in the past weeks. So please, let’s spread the news. Get it right. Inform all those people going around wearing gloves in public to STOP!!! They are simply putting their lives, the lives of their loved ones and the general public at greater risk of infection. This is particularly dangerous for individuals without the minimum infection prevention and control knowledge which is so unique and only usually embedded in healthcare professional training. Therefore professionals like bankers, security guards, cleaners, food handlers, the police and many corporates need to understand this. Further, corporates are advised or encouraged to arrange and offer their employees basic workplace infection prevention and control practices. Disposable gloves should only be used when needed such as when carrying out infection risky procedures, general cleaning or indeed when caring for patients and disposed off safely immediately after use. Long term use entails regularly changing gloves and hand washing with soap in between.
Take for example in America, the CDC has made no recommendation that the general public should wear disposable gloves to prevent the spread of COVID-19. The same applies to many countries of the world. Armed with this information, still a good number of people in Zambia are wearing disposable gloves when they go about their daily routine, even though they don’t have a patient at home and or carrying out cleaning or touching risky areas. This is unnecessary and has to STOP NOW!!! The danger is that people likely won’t wear them properly as well as dispose them safely. Others, will put them on and then take them off to use the phone, eat or carry out any other task and then putting them back on. And it’s important to realize that the majority are using the regular latex medical gloves, not designed for everyday use and therefore rip off easily.
When are disposable gloves recommended?
As explained above, disposable gloves are recommended for people caring for someone who sick (such as those diagnosed with COVID-19), particularly when handling their laundry and when coming into contact with bodily fluids. They are also recommended when carrying out infection risky procedures, general cleaning.
How to reduce your novel coronavirus risk
Frankly speaking using disposable gloves really isn’t worth your time. As highlighted above, it simply creates a false sense of security. Just wash your hands. WHO and the CDC recommends regularly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. And, when soap and water aren’t available, hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol as a good alternative. Avoid touching different surfaces and your eyes, nose, and mouth as much as possible. Stay safe (avoid large gatherings, practice social distancing and head the ministry of health and other official health guidance). Leave the gloves to the healthcare workers or use them only when required and safely disposing them off immediately after use. Further, thorough washing of hands with soap upon glove removal is highly recommended because of the potential for contamination of the hands during glove removal or via glove leaks.
Compiled by; Pharmacist Saini Kennedy L. (Community Pharmacist)