The freakout of disinfection

In times of COVID-19 hygiene care and madness are confused.

We create a thousand rituals, trying to prevent the worst, we try, through rituals, procedures, and steps to control the present and the future. Gel alcohol, 70% alcohol, soap, change of clothes, sprayers, masks, gloves, decontamination areas, oils, perfumes, exits, entrances …

Here at home, in the entrance hall of the apartment, where we usually take off our shoes, we use a clothes rack where we leave the clothes we use to go out on the street. Right at the entrance to the house, a sprinkler with a liter of 70% alcohol (almost gone, to the crowd’s despair).

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After spraying alcohol on the hands and backpacks (we enter the house half-naked), we run around wearing the clothes to wear at home and wash our hands and face.

After dressed and disinfected, we put a moisturizer on our hands, greet each other and share the latest news and resume life. As minimum touch as possible.

I read yesterday that all of this is of no use unless your hair is washed before bed. The hair is the place where the virus would remain comfortably active for many hours and reach the face.

I also read that excess alcohol dries out the skin and decreases its defense against the virus. I also read that there are people passing saliva on the beams and insurers of buses and trains so that other people are contaminated.

I watched a video of a very knowledgeable lady, suggesting the use of pet bottles to protect the face in crowded places. I received another video from an American gentleman saying that the virus is a trick by the government and the media to get us out of circulation while devising evil things to control the planet.

I learned from a medical that he has 30 infected colleagues, many of whom, with due precautions, remain steadfast at work.

I saw a post on Facebook that China had already developed the cure. I saw another one that Cuba, without any contaminants, would have already developed the cure.

I received a link from a supposedly undersigned so that all Swiss workers would receive the aid of CHF1600.00 until the end of the year. I saw another in which a pharmaceutical company would have developed a vaccine. I saw a video of an onion broth with garlic that, besides looking delicious, would also avoid contamination.

What scares me the most is that, even though I enjoy reading, I am at home, awake for around 15 to 18 hours a day. I cook for the family, I write for one of the blogs every day, I study German with my daughter, I speak with the family on the phone, the family in Brazil and Switzerland, I go out every day to walk far from the city for an hour and, after all, I still have 7 to 8 hours left in the day: Facebook and Instagram.

Facebook only talks about the virus, part of Lula’s fault, part of Dilma’s fault, Trump is guilty, the President of China is guilty and Bolsonaro is guilty. Depending on the feeds, this changes, everyone becomes heroes or guilty depending on the team from which the Facebook friend copies the Fake News.

In the absence of a more reliable reference (I think the BAG, the Swiss government’s health agency is very masked, slow and worried with the interests of health insurance), I am at the mercy of destiny searching for good information.

Along with all of this, my wife is 24/7 in groups of Brazilians and families on Whatsapp, more mismatched information.

Two weeks ago, on my walk through the forest, I meditated a lot on this subject.

I remembered the H1N1 epidemic.

I remembered how much alcohol gel made a difference and created, in general, healthier habits in the Curitiba community. Almost all social environments have since offered hand gel alcohol.

I also remembered my basic and community health classes in Psychology course: wash the hands!

I also remembered that, in microbiological terms, contamination is not something sensitive. The moment of contamination is not felt. The moment when the biological agent invades the organism is not felt.

We can barely remember where it might have happened. But, we don’t feel the virus entering the body. In addition, a certain level of contamination is good, to prepare the immune system and, at the same time, dangerous and fundamentally inevitable.

It is possible that we, in Switzerland, who had a late Lockdown, are all contaminated. We stopped the day we reached 1200 infected. The same day that Brazil with 360 infected people stopped. In addition to this, the delay in the reaction of the population (another week), Switzerland stopped efficiently with 4500 contaminants. It is possible that, easily, 80% of the population had contact with the virus.

This is not a guarantee of illness or health.

I tried to think, as a psychologist, what would be the dividing point between sanitation and madness? What would be the time to panic?

I got a 70% alcohol in a small spray bottle from my wife to take with me. I take it and spray it on the handle of the supermarket cart when I am shopping. Last time, the lady next to me asked me to spray in the one she would use. I thought it was functional, I used the stylus to touch the cell phone on the Migros self-service screen. I thought it worked well.

More than that is unnecessary. Simply because it will not bring more protection. More than avoiding touching the handrails and insurers (mainly in public transport) it will no longer prevent contamination.

Any ritual is dysfunctional and meaning less to prevent contamination.

Anything you “feel” that is decontaminated is absolutely useless. When we wash our hands and “feel” the “decontamination or cleaning”, what we are actually feeling is the astringent effect of the soap on the hand. The alcohol gives a similar sensation, but more intense. But, this does not represent DECONTAMINATION, it represents astringency.

But, alcohol and soap helps a lot.

I learned in anatomy classes that, with each action performed with the surgical glove, it must be discarded, so, wearing a surgical glove would not solve the problem, you would go around discarding the gloves.

Even funnier, you would start scratching your face with the dirty glove. But, avoiding touching your face without first washing your hands, it works a lot. Just remember something simple, dirt in your hand is different from dirt in your eye. The gloves are for doctors.

So, what is the line that divides safe hygiene from madness: simple, the manual, the technique. When you “think” or “feel or miss”, you are crazy!!

When you follow the protocol, you are being efficient. But, remember that the domestic protocol of those who are respecting the quarantine and have no patients at home is much milder than the medical protocol.

The second question still remains for me, when is the time for panic?

The answer is never!

Whoever panics dies trampled. Whoever panics is not the first to leave, he is the first to be crushed against the door or the walls. So take a deep breath when your head is to fast.

Then follow the numbers with me:

In Switzerland today, there are about 9000 (23.03.2020) confirmed cases. The highest or the second-highest per-capita rate in the world. But what does this really mean?

It represents that in a population of 8 million 750 thousand people about 9000 people are contaminated. A number that grows about 1000 to 1200 a day is true. But for a giant portion of those who are contaminated, COVID-19 is experienced as a very strong flu. How many strong flus have you had in your life?

It is an increasing number, but still so small of contaminated that, to be able to make an average, it is necessary to reduce to work in groups of 100 thousand people, it is a big amount of people to a statistic survey. A simple comparison is an electoral survey. To get an average in the national elections, the survey groups need to be only 5 thousand people.

Even in Italy, with a population of about 66 million people, with 60,000 people infected, it is not a statistic for panic. But, to take action.

This whole process of blocking ordinary life and prohibiting social contact is only a preventive measure. A global treatment strategy. And, particularly, after talking to people who understand the subject, it is possible that this isolation will continue at least until June.

So, take it easy, stay at home and wash your hads.

Raul de Freitas Buchi

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