5 Coronavirus Prevention Tips that Work:
- 1.Do Not touch your eyes, nose or mouth (i.e. facial mucous membranes or T Zone*) the portal of entry for ALL respiratory infections. Wear a face shield (clear plastic shield) to change this unconscious behavior.
- 2. Handwash/sanitize regularly before eating and when arriving home.
- 3. Clean commonly touched surfaces regularly (more frequently if active disease is present).
- 4. Follow the 4 Principles of Hand Awareness (see below)
- 5. Wear a face shield while in public or in gatherings which cover all of the entry points for Coronavirus. We recommend a face shield over a mask for protection because a mask does not cover your eyes and leaves you vulnerable to contracting Coronavirus.
*Your facial mucous membranes are the eyes, nose and mouth (which we call the T Zone) are the only portal of entry into the human body for ALL respiratory infections including Coronavirus and flu. So, if you break this unconscious habit the result is that you will not give yourself the Coronavirus.
About Dr. Will
During my 34 years of Family Medicine, changing human behavior has been a keen interest of mine. I created a Hand (Hygiene) Awareness program in 1990’s that everyone thought was for children, but in reality it targeted adults, similar to the “Buckle Up” Seatbelt Campaign! When SARS (2002-3) impacted Toronto where more healthcare workers died than others, I developed a simple strategy to help the healthcare worker (and others) “break the habit” of touching the facial mucous membranes: wearing a face shield when seeing a sick patient. I have been doing it ever since SARS and haven’t been sick with a respiratory infection in 17 years! Only seasonal allergies. I tried to have hospitals and Infection Control/Infection Prevention practitioners promote “Do not Touch the T Zone” when administering Flu vaccines, but the uptake was poor. I applied for an NIH grant in 2009 to develop the Health Shield (face shield) as a standard piece of equipment for frontline healthcare workers to protect them from whatever disease they may be face to face with during patient care. Unfortunately, I was unsuccessful at the grant, but have continued to pursue the work on my own. Finally to document this unconscious behavior I reached to UCCOM to help me with a study which Nancy Elder MD helped me implement and get published. (Hand Hygiene and Face Touching in Physician Offices: https://www.jabfm.org/content/27/3/339/tab-references )
First, you need to have the knowledge that the facial mucous membranes are the portal of entry for all respiratory infections, then have enough interest and self-efficacy to want to be healthy and to develop better Hand Awareness practices. Hand Awareness is knowing where your hands are and what they are doing at ALL times.
The first method we implement is the use of a barrier method, a self-teaching tool face shield (health shield) which is a clear plastic barrier that alerts you to how many times you try to touch your face. This increases your awareness so you can begin to extinguish the unconscious habit. As you wear the face shield you become more mindful of the position of your hands (hand awareness). Ultimately the muscle movement and hand motion when you raise your hand to touch your T Zone initiates a conscious alert that you are attempting to touch your face. It is the repetition and practice of wearing the face shield to effectively change the unconscious habit. While wearing the face shield you can breathe, wear glasses, and speak clearly. Now with your new knowledge that ALL respiratory infections only enter through your facial mucous membranes (T Zone) and your new muscle memory you begin to extinguish this bad habit.
Then, you need to have enough interest in staying well by not contracting an infectious disease (self-efficacy).
In addition, the face shield also serves as a protective device when being around sick people or doing patient care as the shield blocks the respiratory droplets from hitting your facial mucous membranes someone might spray out when you are directly in front of them. Remember, we humans are the factory that replicates the viruses once inside us, so, if enough of us stop touching our T Zone (or self-inoculating) there will never be another epidemic or pandemic. With a large enough population of people complying with this correct hand hygiene behavior the result creates the best vaccine-like effect to protect you and your community from any respiratory infection!
The second technique, for those not keen on the face shield techniques, is to wear gloves. Gloves increase your awareness of your hands as they simply modify your tactile response to daily activity and can cause mild harm or irritation when putting your fingers into your eyes, nose or mouth. This change in your tactile (hand sensation) serves as a gentle reminder of where your hands are and what they are doing which is the beginning of becoming more mindful of your hands (Hand Awareness).
A third technique to help groups who are interested in improving their hand hygiene awareness behavior is to use our operant conditioning re-training tool which is commonly called a clicker, also used to train dogs. This technique modestly invokes the Hawthorne effect as people are aware that they are being monitored. We adapted it for use in committee or any congregation of people to alert the group that someone is touching their T Zone. It may sound adolescent but the morbidity and mortality from respiratory infections may be worth helping maintain co-workers and community health. Particularly with the recent Coronavirus, a little disruptive innovation may save a life and help mitigate the infectious disease agent impact on a community.
The 4 Principles of Hand Awareness,listed below, are the foundation for a hand hygiene education curriculum created in the 1990’s. It uses Henry the Hand Champion Handwasher as the spoke teacher/coach/change agent so the message has better retention. It is a science-based adult and children’s program that uses effective multi-media strategies and to help individuals become more mindful of their hands (Hand Aware) to benefit their health.
The 4 Principles of Hand Awareness, listed below, are the foundation for a hand hygiene education curriculum we created in the 1990’s. It uses Henry the Hand Champion Handwasher as the teacher/coach/change agent so that the message has better retention. It is a science-based adult and children’s program that uses effective multi-media strategies to help individuals become more mindful of their hands (Hand Aware) to benefit their health.
WASH your hands when they are dirty and BEFORE eating.
DO NOT cough into your hands.
DO NOT sneeze into your hands.
Above all, DO NOT put your fingers into your eyes, nose, or mouth.
The 4 Principles of Hand Awareness have been endorsed by the AMA and AAFP in 2001.
My motivation for the effort of the T Zone came from the convergence of seeing how this knowledge has benefited my patients since 1986, having children in late 80’s and early 90’s who attended daycare, and a patient encounter before I started wearing a Health Shield. As I saw patients developing chronic diseases and developed the knowledge that viral infections are a leading cause of many chronic diseases (Diabetes, thyroiditis, Rheumatoid Arthritis, etc.) and can cause severe complications from acute diseases, I realized that no one in Public Health or Patient care was teaching the critical role that the facial mucous membranes (T Zone) play in the individual’s health and wellness. A family medicine physician since 1986 I have been a teacher/coach/quarterback for patients on how to improve (change) their personal behaviors for better health outcomes. Having allergies and asthma myself and becoming aware that my allergic and asthmatic patients had increased incidence of respiratory infections and in the exam room they had the “unconscious habit” of increased facial mucous membrane touching (rubbing itching etc.) the light went on that (self) inoculation was the primary mode of transmission. One particularly memorable event 17 years ago, I was swabbing a patient’s throat for a strep test and they coughed in my face and I felt the droplets hit my face. Two days later I manifested the symptoms the patient had. Since then, I have worn a Health Shield (face shield) when seeing a patient suspected of having any respiratory infection and have not been sick with a respiratory infection since. Finally, the knowledge that healthcare workers in Toronto accounted for the majority of the deaths from SARS (2003) increased my motivation to make people aware of the importance of not touching your T Zone. Because any surface around you could be contaminated and direct inoculation by your fingers is the major transmitter (fomite).
To read more about the history of Henry the Champion Handwasher, visit our About Us Page