Coronavirus UK: Can using hand sanitiser stop you from catching the deadly virus?

Coronavirus, which originated in Wuhan, Hubei Province, China has been reported in more than 20 countries around the world. After China, the highest number of cases have been reported in Japan (251) and Singapore (58). In some places, the virus has also proven deadly – in particular in China where the death toll has reached 1,770.


  • Coronavirus UK: Simple hand washing technique could protect you

There’s currently no vaccine available for coronavirus, but health officials have been urging people to practice good hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.

Germs can get into the body through the eyes, nose and mouth, and unwashed hands can get into foods and drinks when people prepare or consume them.

So what’s the best way to keep hands clean – can hand sanitiser stop you from catching the deadly virus?

According to Dr Richard Dawood from Fleet Street Clinic,, hand sanitiser and hand washing are both effective ways of keeping hands clean.

He told “Thorough hand-washing with soap and water, followed by drying with a clean cloth or paper towel is the gold standard for hand hygiene – don’t then undo the good work by touching dirty door handles, taps or other contaminated surfaces.

“But when you are out and about, travelling, and especially if you are about to handle food, sanitisers can be more practical and accessible, and are also effective if used thoroughly.”

Professor Stephen Turner from Monash University in Australia also agreed hand sanitiser is a good way to prevent and stop the spread of coronavirus.

He said: “Definitely if it is a good quality one.

“Usually they contain ethanol (dehydrates) and often a generic antimicrobial such as benzalkonium chloride or triclosan.”

But Professor Turner added: “Unfortunately, these latter ingredients are more effective against bacteria vs viruses.

“Hand washing is probably just as effective, especially with a good soap.

“This would help remove and denature any virus particles have found their way onto a person’s hands.


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“A common route of transmission is to have touched a contaminated surface and then to wipe your nose, rub your eyes or bring your hand close to your mouth (e.g. if eating, especially by hand).”

There is still little evidence 2019-nCoV, the strain of coronavirus currently infecting people around the globe, is transmitted via aerosols, meaning you can breathe it in.

Professor Turner said while this might be the case it hasn’t been confirmed.

He added: “Nevertheless, it is a respiratory infection, so when people sneeze or cough, the droplets that are released can fall onto surfaces.

“If you cough into your hand, or wipe your nose, it can be transmitted from your hand to surfaces where the virus can be picked up via contact.

“So good practise is to sneeze/cough into a tissue (which is disposed of); or into the crook of your elbow. Then wash your hands afterwards.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also offers advice on the most effective way for keeping hands clean.

It says: “Wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, especially after going to the bathroom; before eating; and after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing.

“If soap and water are not readily available, use an alcohol-based hand sanitiser with at least 60 percent alcohol. Always wash hands with soap and water if hands are visibly dirty.”

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