Covid-19: are disposable gloves useful?

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More and more people want to wear disposable protective gloves when they shop. But this habit does not prevent the spread of the coronavirus in various places, including the face, if used incorrectly. This warning comes from the Belgian association Test Achats, for whom it is clearly preferable to wash your hands properly after each action.

To avoid coming into contact with the new coronavirus, social distancing and barrier gestures are essential on a daily basis (washing hands regularly, coughing or sneezing into the elbow or handkerchief, greeting without shaking hands, wearing handkerchiefs). The masks now available in pharmacies can also serve as an added measure of protection when traveling in public spaces, but what about gloves? The Belgian association Test-Achats wanted to answer this question, after discovering that more and more people tend to wear disposable gloves, especially in supermarkets.

His response is quite mixed for the simple and good reason that this gesture cannot reduce the risk of coronavirus infection if gloves are worn and then thrown correctly. Therefore, "it is much more important to wash your hands regularly," says the association. The virus spreads through the drops released when someone with COVID-19 speaks, coughs, or sneezes. These droplets can "stain" surfaces, some of which are often touched by hands: car handles or freezers in supermarkets, elevator buttons, toilet handles. That is why they must be cleaned regularly.

With your hands or gloves, there are the same risks.

"If you get there as a healthy person with your hands and then touch your mouth, nose, or eyes (which often happens unconsciously), you can get infected, adds the association. Therefore, if infection can also occur with hands, it seems logical that the use of disposable gloves can reduce this risk. But as the Ministry of Health explains, gloves can also be a source of contamination by drops containing viruses. "The virus does not pass through our skin, and even less through the skin of the hands, "he especially fears that this material will give us a false sense of security.

Because even according to the recommendations of the Ministry of Health, "studies show that glove users touch their faces much more frequently and are more likely to become contaminated." The same is true for Test-Achats experts, who point out that as soon as a surface contaminated by the virus is touched with gloves, there are no more differences with the hands. "Anything you touch afterwards can also be contaminated. If you are shopping with gloves, it is absolutely forbidden to touch your face or objects that may come in contact with your face afterwards, like your glasses or your mobile phone", they say.

How to take off and throw away disposable gloves?

Therefore, wearing gloves would be of little use, except in very specific situations (caregivers who perform samples or gestures at risk). Because nuance is important: "Healthcare workers know how to use and dispose of them properly".

To remove the disposable gloves, you should pay close attention to the procedure: take the first glove at wrist level, pull it out with your arms separated from the body, turn it upside down and hold it with the other hand still wearing gloves. For the second glove, you must slide your fingers at the wrist and also pull it, with your arms apart, turning it around the first glove.

In addition to disposing of them in the correct way, they must also be disposed of properly (then wash your hands). This waste is sensitive because it is a vector of the virus, since tissues and masks are used. Due to their infectious risks to waste collection personnel and to others who may come in contact with them, it is advisable to place them in a separate, tightly closed plastic bag and then in the general landfill. "In recent times, there have been many messages from people leaving them lying on the street or in a supermarket parking lot. Don't do this, otherwise those who have to clean them can become infected," concludes Test-Achats.

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