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A Japanese expert's guide to washing your hands properly to fend off the coronavirus


TOKYO -- Hand-washing is said to be the most effective way to prevent catching or spreading infectious diseases such as the new coronavirus. And according to one Japanese expert, you don't need special antibacterial soaps. You just need to wash your hands the right way.

Professor Intetsu Kobayashi at Toho University's Department of Infection Control and Prevention says coronavirus and other virus particles in droplets that land on smooth surfaces such as plastic, glass and metal can survive for a few hours up to several days. Which is why he recommends people to wash their hands after touching objects many people may have held, such as handrails and train straps.

According to Kobayashi, the proper way to wash your hands is to: (1) Thoroughly wet your hands and wrists with water; (2) Apply more soap than usual, and rub your hands together palm-to-palm to create a good lather; (3) Rub the back of each hand and scrub between your fingers; (4) Rub your fingertips into the opposite palm to wash under your nails; (5) Clasp each finger, including the thumb, in the opposite hand, giving them each a good scrub; (6) Scrub your wrists; (7) Rinse, following the same steps.

He warns people not to use their hands to turn the tap off, but to use either paper towels or tissues.

Lathering up your hands with soap lifts the virus particles off your skin and allows them to be rinsed away, says Kobayashi. Because the aim is to remove the virus, he says people don't need to use antibacterial soap.

Kobayashi also recommends people wash their hands in the same way with just water if there is no soap available, as even this is effective to some extent. He advised, "It's handy to carry around a small bar of soap in a plastic bag on the assumption that some places don't have soap."

(Japanese original by Hiroyuki Kondo, Local News Group)

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