Straws could be useful to combat COVID-19

Hand washing for at least 20 seconds is the best way of not catching the coronavirus, experts say.
Hand washing for at least 20 seconds is the best way of not catching the coronavirus, experts say.

You should think twice about licking your fingers after a satisfying takeaway meal or drinking straight out of can or bottle handled by a third party, says a leading hygienist.

Even giving your hands the once over with Wet Wipes is not a guarantee against the dreaded coronavirus, says Griffith University's associate professor of Environmental Health Anne Roiko.

She said no matter how hygienic we try to be, nothing beats washing your hands for 20 seconds or even longer, from the tips of your fingers, and between them, to the back of the hands.

"If people are washing their hands properly and they put their fingers in their mouth that wouldn't matter," Assoc Prof Roiko said.

"But if you're out and about, like buying take-away fish and chips and you haven't had a chance to wash your hands - and Wet Wipes is not going to do it because that's what people are used to - that level of hygiene is not enough."

Consuming drinks straight from the vessel they were purchased in, whether it's a bottle, can or glass, also can have inherent problems, Assoc Prof Roiko said.

While loathe to suggest the use of straws, Assoc Prof Roiko, said paper straws may help prevent the spread of COVID-19 when restaurants and bars re-opened.

"You have to assume everyone has touched something," she said.

"Paper straws would be better than putting your lips on something that someone else has touched, but unless the straw is individually wrapped, and they have come in a big packet of straws then they have been handled too."

She also warned people who visit bathrooms at shopping centres and other public facilities to be mindful not to just wash their hands for as long as the water runs.

"You go to shopping centres and other places and you turn on the tap and the water disappears after a few seconds because they wanted to save water and that made sense then but not now," she said.

"You have to watch each part of your hands and the tips of your fingers and do it for at least 20 seconds.

"Hand washing is the key and hand sanitising."

Australian Associated Press