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A glossary of Social distancing, Soaps and hand sanitizers

Magzblog throws light on the recently trending terminologies among people during this COVID-19 pandemic. It compiles and explains in brief the relevance of these terminologies in everyday living.

    Social distancing

    Wikipedia defines “Social distancing, also called physical distancing, is a set of non-pharmaceutical interventions or measures taken to prevent the spread of a contagious disease by maintaining a physical distance between people and reducing the number of times people come into close contact with each other.

    Closing schools, working from home, stop use of public transport, restricting public gatherings etc., are examples of social distancing policies. It aims at limiting the congregation of large groups of people to reduces community transmission of the infection and thus slows or limits spread of the disease.

    But Is it required in home?
    Yes, we should maintain distance from our family members as well. It is required to reduce the contact between people to prevent spread of infection. Family members should consciously avoid touching their faces. "The key is to ensure social distancing within the family and taking all precautionary measures even at home”.

    Inanimate surface objects which the family members may be touching inadvertently, like door knobs and hard surfaces, phones and many others things of everyday use are very important medium of germ spread. It is important to sanitize those objects regularly.

    Non pharmaceutical interventions (NPIs)

    These are communities mitigation strategies which are actions in preventing spread of infection apart from vaccinations and taking medicines. The strategies are frequent hand washing, covering the face while coughing or sneezing and keeping a distance from sick people. This helps the people and communities to help slow the spread of illnesses like COVID -19. Because the virus is new, the human population has little or no immunity against it. So this may allow the virus to spread quickly from person to person worldwide. Hence, NPIs are among the best ways of controlling this flu like disease when vaccines are not yet available. 

    Relevance. NPIs will be the best defense  a community can have against the spread of the pandemic. Non pharmaceutical interventions are accessible, affordable, and very effective.


    Quarantine is a restriction on the movement of people and goods which are intended to prevent the spread of disease. It is often used in connection to disease and illness, preventing the movement of those who may have been exposed to a communicable disease, but do not have a confirmed medical diagnosis. 

    Quarantine is an  “ Italian “word quaranta giorni or meaning 40 days and the practice dates back to 1347-48 during black plague. It was an attempt to slow the disease by separating and restricting the movement of people. Venice founded the first quarantine island namely Lozaretto Vecchio.

    Difference between isolation and quarantine?

    • Isolation is separating sick people with a contagious disease from people who are not sick.
    • Quarantine is separating and restricting the movement of people who were exposed to a contagious disease to see if they become sick. These people may have been exposed to a disease and do not know it, or they may have the disease but do not show symptoms.

    What is soap?

    Soap is a mixture of fat or oil, water, and an alkali, or basic salt used as a cleansing agent. It dates back in use by Babylonians.

    How soap works?

    Soap is a compound which contains two ends one is water loving end called hydrophilic and other oil or fat loving end called hydrophobic. When you wash your hands with soap the germs, microbes or dirt  are hydrophobic will attach  with hydrophobic part of the soap which is oily in nature and at the same time the hydrophilic part of the soap also attaches with water. In Sum, washing with soap will remove the germ attaching to the  soap away from your hand and soap will be washed away by water making our hands germ free. Hence soap is called surfactant. Here  the point is Soap doesn't kill germs on our hands, it wards off or removes them.

    Steps in hand washing

    • step 1 - Wetting the hands
    • step 2 - Lathering soap (covering the backs of your hands, under the nails and between fingers)
    • step 3 - Scrubbing all surfaces for 20 seconds
    • step 4 - Rinsing with clean water and
    • step 5 - Drying with a clean towel.


    What is hand sanitizer?  

    It is a liquid, gel, or foam generally used to decrease infectious agents on the hands. It is a liquid preparation with at least 60% alcohol content in it. It is used more in health care setting owing to better tolerance and more effective use. 

    It is available as  Ethyl and isoprpyl  alcohol. The former ethyl with strength 70% is a powerful broad-spectrum germicide and is considered generally superior to isopropyl alcohol.

    Alcohol is often used to disinfect small surfaces like rubber sheets  and thermometers and occasionally external surfaces of equipment stethoscopes and ventilators. Since alcohol is flammable, its use should be limited as a surface disinfectant to small surface-areas and use it in well-ventilated spaces only rather than domestic hand sanitizer use. Prolonged and repeated use of alcohol as a disinfectant can also cause discoloration, swelling, hardening and cracking of rubber and certain plastics. So caution its use as a hand sanitizer.

     Alcohol based sanitizers are effective against wide variety of microorganisms but not spores.

    Hand washing with soap and water should be carried out if contamination can be suspected, or following the use of the infection spread area rather than use as sanitizer.

    Home made Sanitizer

    a ratio for making a home made sanitizer is available over the internet which tells
    • Mix 161 ml of isopropyl alcohol with 79 ml of emollient. this concentration is for a lower alcohol content. 
    • One more with higher content is made of 8333 ml of 96% ethanol, 145 ml of 98% glycerol and 417 ml of 3% hydrogen peroxide which is added to reduce bacterial contamination of the sanitizer and is not an active substance for hand sepsis.
    • It is recommended to get it purchased from a good retailer.

    Difference between soap hand wash and a hand sanitizer?

    • Generally, hand washing  with a soap is more effective for disease prevention than hand sanitizer because soap removes microbes that alcohol-based products don't. Soap also removes traces of pesticides and heavy metals that hand sanitizers can leave behind. hence should be used for prevalent domestic use.
    • Hand sanitizer is effective only if your hands are clean. 
    • Hand sanitizers may not be as effective when hands are visibly dirty or greasy.
    • Even if hand washing is the better method for avoiding germs, hand sanitizers remain popular because of their convenience to use. Health care workers use it more because their hands are clean and sanitizer is used to kill residual infectious microbes so that they do not pass it on to their attending patients.


    Difference between antiseptic and disinfectant?

    • An antiseptic is applied to the body as a skin preparation, while disinfectants are applied to non living surfaces, such as counter  tops and handrails. In a surgical setting, for example, a doctor will apply an antiseptic to the surgical site on a person’s body and use a disinfectant to sterilize the operating table.
    • Both antiseptics and disinfectants contain chemical agents that are called biocides used to  kill biological microbes. Hydrogen peroxide is an example of a common ingredient in both antiseptics and disinfectants. However, antiseptics usually contain lower concentrations of biocides than disinfectants do because they are used over human skin.

    What is a detergent?

    detergent is a surfactant or a mixture of surfactants with cleansing properties in dilute solutions.

    Difference between soap and detergents?

    • A detergent is a chemical substance you use to break up and remove grease and grime, while soap is simply one kind of detergent. 
    • Soap was originally made from purely natural products like goat's fat and wood ash while detergent is a complete synthetic product. 
    • Detergents are used in everything from hair shampoo and clothes washing powder to shaving foam and stain removers.

    Infectious and contagious disease.

    Our glossary will not be complete without this..

    Infectious diseases are caused by microscopic germs like virus and bacteria that get into the body and cause problems. only some infectious diseases spread from one person to another. these disease which spread from one person to another are contagious diseases.
    Some infections spread to people from an animal or insect , but are not contagious from another human. here you cannot catch the disease from someone you are hanging out with or pass in the street. It gets infected either by a bite of an insect or other vectors.

    Contagious diseases spread from person to person in several ways. one way is when an infectious microbe travels through air after someone nearby sneezes or coughs. Covid-19 is one.

    Social distance your self, be safe stay healthy



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