How do you stop COVID-19 without clean water?

{Photograph} by Sanjit Das, Panos Footage/Redu​x

{Photograph} by Sanjit Das, Panos Footage/Redu​x

In India, drought and groundwater contamination implies that washing palms isn’t as a lot of a cultural norm.

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A lot to my mother’s chagrin, my father is a infamous believer within the “five-second rule”—when a chip falls on the ground, he has no compunction about selecting it up and popping it in his mouth. I didn’t decide up that behavior, however I additionally didn’t perceive why mother bought so agitated about it; he by no means appeared to come back down with a abdomen bug. And in a method, science backs him up: Stuff dropped on the ground does decide up a stunning quantity of bacterial hitchhikers, however if you happen to’re at residence and also you’ve been maintaining issues tidy, you’re not more likely to have actually dangerous microbes in your flooring within the first place.

In fact, that was earlier than COVID-19. Nowadays, I don’t contact a supply field or a doorknob with out vigorously washing my palms, a lot much less sit all the way down to a meal. Something that hits the ground goes proper within the trash, after which I wash my palms once more.

From the beginning, “wash your palms” has been the mantra from well being specialists all over the world as probably the most fundamental measure for shielding individuals and slowing the unfold of this coronavirus. However what occurs when entry to wash water is a luxurious, not a given? A single 20-second wash makes use of greater than half a gallon of water, Nilanjana Bhowmick reports for Nat Geo. In rural India (pictured above), excessive percentages of households don’t have operating water piped in, and many individuals depend on vans to ship set quantities each day. Typically, the vans don’t come. The issue is compounded by drought and groundwater contamination. Because of this, washing palms isn’t as a lot of a cultural norm.

Rural India isn’t alone. In response to the CDC, about 663 million individuals all over the world don’t have access to “improved” water sources, together with piped water in properties and water from protected wells or springs. Some early experiences even recommend that clear water may not be a given in the U.S. for much longer, as the continued pandemic strains the flexibility of utility managers to workers remedy vegetation and keep water infrastructure.

Whereas quick options usually are not but clear, the hope in India is that COVID-19 could also be a wake-up name for the nation’s authorities to take fast motion to deal with clear water shortages, and for individuals there to embrace hand-washing extra extensively. Right here at residence, maybe it should lastly persuade my dad that the five-second rule is hogwash.

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