Hand sanitiser WON'T protect you from nasty winter bug, docs warn

BRITS have become reliant on squeezing hand sanitiser on our palms to get rid of any pesky Covid germs.

But there is one lurking winter bug set to explode through the population that isn't beaten by alcohol gel.

Norovirus is harder to shift from your hands if you've come into contact with the virus.

Health experts have warned hand sanitiser often isn't able to pull off all the particles from your skin.

Instead they say warm water and soap, and a thorough scrub for at least 20 seconds, is the best way to ward off the nasty bug.

It's good to keep on using the alcohol gel while out and about to keep yourself and others safe from Covid, flu and colds.

But make sure you are still regularly washing your hands where possible to fight the bugs from both angles.

Dr Lesley Larkin from the Gastrointestinal Pathogens Unit at the UKHSA, said: “Norovirus, commonly known as the winter vomiting bug, has been at lower levels than normal throughout the pandemic with less opportunity to spread between people in the community but as restrictions have eased we have seen an increase in cases across all age groups.

“As with Covid-19, handwashing is really important to help stop the spread of this bug, but remember, unlike for Covid-19 alcohol gels do not kill off norovirus so soap and warm water is best.”

Last month we told how norovirus cases had already risen 40 per cent on the five-year average – sparking fears of a trio of rampant winter viruses to contend with.

Government scientists had already warned months rates of the seasonal vomiting and tummy bug could explode.

Because we have all been washing our hands more, wearing masks and staying at home, there has been a drop in colds, flu and other seasonal illnesses spreading.

This has now changed as social distancing has been scrapped, with colds already striking down much of the country.

Winter bugs which didn't circulate last year are set to return with vigour, with them hitting harder as our immune systems have not faced them for two years.

Most infections of the norovirus occur through contact with infected people or contaminated surfaces, or through ingesting contaminated food and water.

Symptoms include sudden onset of nausea, projectile vomiting and diarrhoea, but can also include a high temperature, abdominal pain and aching limbs.

To stay safe, think NORO:

N     No visits to hospitals, care homes and GP surgeries if you are suffering from symptoms of Norovirus – send someone else to visit loved ones until you are better

O     Once you’ve been symptom-free for at least 48 hours, you’re safe to return to work, school or visit hospitals and care home

R     Regularly wash your hands with soap and warm water, especially after using the toilet, and before eating or preparing food

O     Only hand-washing will prevent spread of Norovirus – alcohol hand gels DON’T kill the virus

If you think you have caught the norovirus then you should avoid cooking and preparing meals for others for at least 48 hours after your symptoms stop, guidance states.

This is because norovirus can be spread through food contaminated by the virus when food is handled by symptomatic people/infected individuals.

You should also wash any clothing or bedding that may have been contaminated at 60C and where possible you should use disposable gloves to get rid of it.

It comes after the Department of Health launched a winter vaccines campaign to encourage everyone to get protected.

Dr Jenny Harries, chief of the UK Health Security Agency, said: “We are facing a challenging winter but we can all help ourselves and those around us by taking up the Covid-19 booster and flu vaccine, if eligible.”

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