It has been a difficult and challenging 18 months with the Covid-19 pandemic raging across the globe. Singapore has been one of the more successful models for limiting the Covid-19 spread in the population.
But the recent spike in local cases suggests that we may have neglected an important aspect among all the good that we have done thus far.
While most of the attention has been focused on the successful adoption of mask-wearing, high vaccination rate and vaccination-differentiated measures, one basic but fundamental aspect may have been overlooked – the lack of attention to hand hygiene.
I have noticed that hand sanitiser is used less often now as compared with the beginning of the pandemic, when vaccination was still unavailable.
Lately, it seems that supermarkets and shops are putting out fewer hand sanitisers, and many people are not using them when needed as well.
Probably due to pandemic fatigue and the assurance derived from vaccination, it seems that people are letting their guard down.
The mindfulness of practising proper hand hygiene – for example, proper use of hand sanitiser (application before and after contact with any surfaces) when washing of hands with soap is not possible – seems to have taken a back seat.
This is noticeable even in high-traffic areas – for example, buses and MRT trains, eateries and supermarkets.
This is worrying when it has been reported that the coronavirus can survive for even days on different surfaces.
It is of critical importance to continue to highlight the importance of proper hand hygiene, which should be regarded in the same light as vaccination, wearing of masks and safe distancing. Detailed illustrations in different languages on hand hygiene should be put up in public areas and in the media.
It may also be worth requiring hand sanitisation before people enter and exit malls or shops, having hand sanitisers on buses and MRT trains, and launching a hand hygiene campaign to instil the habit.
These may be pragmatic, effective and cost-effective ways to further reduce the infection rate.
Yuan Wei Chian