The way healthcare and other primary necessity workers use personal protective equipment (PPE) during a patient or customer interaction is crucial. In healthcare and other primary necessity industries such as public safety, sanitary products and food manufacturing, pharmacies, grocery stores, transports and logistics, workers should wear PPE, including the proper use of gloves. Gloves are to be used as a single use item and are not meant or designed to be used for multiple use, prolonged use or daily use. And in order to provide effective protection, gloves have to be worn following a specific safety protocol. The wearing of gloves when going out for day to day activities is not recommended for the general public because it is not effective to protect against COVID-19 for this type of usage.
Here is why gloves won’t protect you: our hands are not a portal of entry for the Coronavirus (and many other viruses). Intact skin actually serves as a barrier to several infectious diseases. The route of entry is through our mucous membranes—eyes, nose and mouth. It is inevitable not to keep our hands away from touching our faces, as the average number is 20 times per hour! Wearing gloves can give us a false sense of security as the virus can stick even better to the surface of a glove versus our hands (Dr S.Gupta).
So if you are not involved in primary necessity activities and want to mitigate all contamination risk from the things you touch with your hands, (1) wash your hands regularly, (2) sanitize all surfaces that are being touched, (3) avoid touching your face at all times, and (4) avoid using disposable gloves. Just like face masks, the supplies for this type of PPE come in increasingly limited quantities, and it is crucial that all workers in healthcare and other primary necessity industries have access to them at all times to help contain the virus and solve the epidemic.
For more information on the topic, check out this video of Dr Samir Gupta talking about PPE for general public.
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Sources: Miller, C. & Palenik, C (2005). Infection Control & Management of Hazardous Materials for the Dental Team. St. Louis. Elsevier Mosby. Gupta, S (2020). CBC News National. Why gloves won’t do much to protect you from COVID-19? Retrieved from: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Bx1lidaX1qk&feature=youtu.be