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I want you to wash your hands!

Cold Flu Corona virus prevention

Image from  PrawnyPixabay

I hope I’m not the only person who does not want all the measures of Corona-virus prevention to go away. Because the number of sick listed people was on a record low in the months of April and May 2020, reports the German health insurance company Techniker Krankenkasse (technician insurance). The insurer attributes this improved health to the distancing and hygiene measures. This shows that improved hygiene could reduce the risk to catch a flu long-term, which sounds very nice to me.

When the Corona virus hit Europe in March 2020, the cases of sickness absence in Germany initially increased dramatically, to the highest value of the past 20 years (6.8 %), compared to the same period of previous years. The Techniker Krankenkasse links this to people being more cautious and calling in sick even with mild symptoms, that would not have stopped them from going to work in previous years.

With the lockdown in April, notifications of illness began to drop and reached the lowest point since 2006, namely 3.35 %, in May 2020. The health insurance company reports, that it is mainly flu related absence that declines. Though Injuries have become increasingly rare as well, as commuting accidents are prevented with people mainly working from home.  

Corona virus itself has little effect on cases of illness, it ranged between 0.27 % and 0.64 % of all people who called in sick in the months of March to May.

That said, the preventive measures against the spreading of Corona virus have the added bonus of preventing other disease as well. Wouldn’t it be nice to protect ourselves and others from the annoying colds and flus that are out to get us in winter? We all have gotten used to washing our hands regularly, not touching our face, coughing into our elbow, and so on. One can even get used to the facemask, obligatory to wear in public places like the supermarket in Germany, if it is below 36 °C of course.

It would be nice to keep this up, even after the pandemic ends. Shops could just leave the acrylic glass walls up, we could continue to wash our hands regularly and keep rooms ventilated, when we are inside with many people. We could switch to a polite nod as means to greet each other, just the way it is common in Japan. We could actually stay at home when we have a normal cold, to prevent it from spreading at our place of work. As home-office policy is more liberal these days, we could call it a “I’m not so sick that I can’t work, but I don’t want to spread the bug” day.

I personally like the distancing in the supermarket, the pharmacy, at restaurants, and in the city. Just because it does not feel so crowded and hectic. But it has the added benefit of preventing a cold. So, how about we keep some of the habits of Corona virus crisis once life gets back to normal?



Published by Katrin Heidemeyer

Katrin Heidemeyer ist Doktorandin im Bereich Biochemie an der Wageningen University and Research. Durch ihre Arbeit möchte sie das Wissen über die Spezifität von Hormon-Signalen in Pflanzen erweitern. Da ihre Interessen über Pflanzenbiologie hinausreichen, schreibt sie in ihrer Freizeit über diverse Themen. Von Ernährung zu Psychologie, der Neugierde sind keine Grenzen gesetzt.

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