Frequent handwashing with soap is one of the most effective ways to stop the spread of coronavirus (COVID-19).
What is COVID-19?
Coronaviruses are a group of contagious, flu-like viruses. They cause symptoms that can be as mild as a common cold but in some cases can be fatal. COVID-19 is a new type of coronavirus that is spreading quickly around the world. Early symptoms include fever, cough and difficulty in breathing – similar to other flu-like illnesses.
With specific treatments or a vaccine not yet available, preventing its spread from person to person is vital to reduce the outbreak's impact on people’s lives, health, livelihoods and the healthcare systems we all rely on.
Handwashing is key to preventing coronavirus
Frequent, thorough handwashing with soap and water is one of the best ways to prevent the spread of infectious diseases, including COVID-19. Like a cold, coronaviruses are spread through droplets from a person coughing or sneezing, and potentially via contaminated surfaces. Good hygiene is key to avoiding spreading it – and catching it.
Along with other important behaviours, thoroughly washing hands often and at key moments is essential to controlling the pandemic. The film below is a reminder in Urdu to wash hands regularly for 20 seconds each time. Share it with your friends and family to keep them reminded.
WaterAid is supporting government interventions and implementing COVID-19 response with the help of implementing partners in 10 districts of Pakistan. Going forward, we will continue to build on the work we already do to make sure everyone, everywhere understands the value of good hygiene, specifically focusing on:
Creating a nationwide call to action for cleaning hands with soap at critical times, additionally alerting people to be more careful, self-responsible and be responsible towards others.
Developing and disseminating frequent messages related to hygiene behaviour across media and social media platforms in two main categories: information and prevention.
Taking a ‘do no harm’ approach, i.e. no community engagement/people to people contact to reduce the possibility of spreading the virus.
Providing technical support to government-led hygiene initiatives.
Tackling COVID-19 requires a comprehensive package including preventive, protective and curative interventions. According to WHO, one of the key preventive measures for COVID-19 is to practise frequent handwashing with soap.
First phase of response
20 March - 20 April 2020
Since the emergence of COVID-19 in Pakistan, WaterAid Pakistan through its implementing partners is closely in contact with the provincial departments responsible for water, sanitation and health as well as Provincial Disaster Management Authorities (PDMAs) to assess the situation and support them in improving access to WASH, especially handwashing facilities, in hospitals, quarantine centres and public places. In this regard, WaterAid initiated immediate emergency response across Pakistan on 19 March 2020. The following activities were undertaken by WaterAid as an immediate response to COVID-19:
- Countrywide awareness campaign in regional and local languages on importance of handwashing with soap and social distancing for prevention of the spread of COVID-19 using FM radio, local cable networks, SMS service reaching out to 22.6 million people across Pakistan.
- Installation of 58 handwashing facilities in hospitals, quarantine centres and public places in Islamabad (PIMS), Lahore, Multan, Muzaffargarh, Mardan and Quetta districts in close coordination with the district administration.
- 30,000 soaps, 5,000 examination gloves, 5,000 surgical masks, 100 KN95 masks, 1,000 MHM kits, 900 PPEs (gown, cap and shoe cover) and 100 goggles were handed over to PDMAs/ district governments in Islamabad, Punjab, KPK, Sindh and Balochistan.
Ground activities in Islamabad
WaterAid installed 16 permanent handwashing stations at Pakistan Institute of Medical Sciences (PIMS) in Islamabad for patients, hospital staff and doctors to wash their hands regularly with soap and water.
Ground activities in KPK
10 temporary handwashing stations were installed in Mardan, KPK, for those working outside to wash their hands with soap and water regularly.
Ground activities in Punjab
Four mobile handwashing stations have been installed in Muzaffargarh in collaboration with WASA Multan along with multiple billboards in the main areas of the city on awareness regarding the virus.
Multiple temporary handwashing stations are also installed in quarantine centres, healthcare facilities and fruit and vegetable markets in Multan.
More stations are ready to be installed in the city of Lahore and Muzaffargarh.
Handwashing video series
Have you watched our videos on handwashing we had made earlier? They are always relevant, but even more now. Watch and share.