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Saturday, December 05, 2020

Explained: Besides face cover, should I wear gloves when I go outdoors?

Coronavirus (COVID-19): Gloves are necessary for patients and healthcare workers; there is still no recommendation that the general public should wear them.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi | Updated: April 14, 2020 7:14:52 pm
Explained: Besides face cover, should I wear gloves when I go outdoors? Gloves are necessary for COVID-19 patients, medical staff and those engaged in cleaning contaminated surfaces. (Reuters Photo)

Initially, masks were said to be not necessary unless you were a COVID-19 patient, a healthcare worker or someone cleaning an environment that may have had such patients in them. Now that health authorities in India, as well as the US, have recommended that everyone going out should use a face cover, does that work for gloves too? No, the previous advisory stands.

Gloves are necessary for COVID-19 patients and healthcare workers; there is still no recommendation that the general public should wear them.

A member of a medical team wears gloves because there is a constant risk of touching infected surfaces and spreading the infection to the next surface they touch. For that reason, they change their disposable gloves periodically.

For someone who lives and works in an area without a history of COVID-19 infection, the risk of touching an infected surface is much lower. If they wish to wear gloves, the argument would be that this protect their hands from getting infected. The counter-argument would be that if they did touch an infected surface outdoors, they can spread it through their gloves now. That would include infecting themselves. If they handled something infected and then touched their face, the gloves would not protect them.

Many experts quoted by international media have said gloves should only be worn to protect healthcare workers from the fluids of an infected person. When dealing with a patient, a new pair of sterile gloves should be used.

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If someone outside of healthcare wears gloves, some experts have observed, he or she might become less conscious that they contaminated their hands than they might have if they had touched a surface with their bare hands.

As such, there is no substitute for hand hygiene — wash your hands frequently with soap and water, or with an alcohol-based sanitiser. Only when washing or sanitising is not an option should one look at gloves as a possible way to minimise infection.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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