We’re killing two bugs with the one cake of soap
NORTH Coast health authorities have confirmed a 20 per cent fall in the number of people presenting with gastric diseases since the start of the COVID-19 outbreak.
The director Clinical Operations at the Northern NSW Local Health District, Lynne Weir, said numbers had fallen significantly this year.
“Reports show that gastro-related presentations for the year to date at Grafton Base Hospital are down by around 20 per cent compared to 2019,” she said.
“From January 1, 2020 to March 30, 2020 there were 249 presentations, compared to 314 for the same period in 2019.”
While authorities stress the numbers are just a comparison, they say it’s better health facilities are dealing with fewer cases of gastric illnesses and able to concentrate on COVID-19.
“While we can’t categorically put this down to the increased hand hygiene measures the community is taking, it’s encouraging that we’re seeing fewer presentations of this nature at the moment,” Ms Weir said.
“It’s important we all continue to heed the health advice in reducing the transmission of COVID-19 and other viruses, such as washing your hands regularly or using an alcohol-based hand sanitiser, in addition to following the social distancing measures now in place.”
While the effects of COVID-19 and gastric bugs could not be more different, the measures to deal with the bugs that cause them were similar.
The Centre for Disease Control said many different germs can cause gastroenteritis.
They include viruses (like rotaviruses and noroviruses), bacteria (such as Salmonella or Shigella), and parasites (such as Giardia).
The bugs spread in many similar ways to the COVID-19 virus like touching surfaces or objects contaminated with the germs and then touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.
Having close contact with a sick person during a gastric episode, sharing food or eating from the same utensils, caring for a sick person or shaking hands can spread the bugs.
Not washing hands after using the bathroom or changing nappies and before eating or preparing food can also pass on the germs.
The centre said the good news was all these viruses, bacterias and parasites are susceptible to a good scrub with soap and water or failing that, an alcohol-based hand sanitiser.
With COVID-19 authorities also stress the need for social distancing and isolation to stop the airborne spread of the virus, to break the chain of virus spread.
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