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Hygiene theatre: how excessive cleaning gives us a false sense of security
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Michael Ejercito
2021-07-12 13:52:51 UTC
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http://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/12/hygiene-theatre-how-excessive-cleaning-gives-us-a-false-sense-of-security


Hygiene theatre: how excessive cleaning gives us a false sense of security
c
‘Instead of looking at how many hand sanitisers there, people should be
looking at reassurances around the ventilation.’ Composite: Getty
Covid-19 is a mainly airborne disease. So does our endless disinfecting
and hand sanitising serve any purpose – or could it be worse than useless?

Sirin Kale
Sirin Kale
Mon 12 Jul 2021 05.30 EDT
185
Claudia, a 26-year-old beauty worker, dreads it when her clients ask to
go to the toilet. “It’s a whole other thing to clean,” she says. “They
could have touched anything in there. I have to wipe down the whole
thing with antibacterial spray and wipes.”

It is her job to maintain stringent cleaning protocols at the London
skincare clinic where she works. When clients arrive for their
appointments, Claudia checks them in, offers them a drink – the clinic
only uses disposable cups or plastic water bottles – and takes them
through to the treatment room.

Once her colleague is performing their treatment, Claudia begins
furiously scrubbing every surface the customer could conceivably have
touched.

After the customer leaves, Claudia scours the treatment room and
replaces all the towels before wiping down the pump dispenser on the
antibacterial hand gel visitors use when arriving. Then, when a new
customer arrives, the process begins again. “I’ve had a few clients
saying they feel really safe in here,” Claudia says, “because they know
we are really careful and cautious about sanitising everything.”

Advertisement
Firefighters struggle to contain exploding northern California wildfire
Which makes it strange that the one measure that would contribute most
to the safety of the clients and workers in Claudia’s clinic isn’t being
implemented: ventilation.

Covid-19 is an airborne disease that is principally transmitted through
respiratory droplets, as well as aerosols, that can linger in the air
for many minutes after an infected person has left a room, and travel
metres in distance. The most effective way to minimise the risk of Covid
transmission in indoor settings is to open as many windows and doors as
possible and mandate mask use.

But, although a window at the back of the clinic is open, the front door
is closed. “We can’t have the door at the front open,” Claudia says,
“because we’re on the main road. It’s more the security element than
anything. Someone could just walk straight in … it’s probably not as
well ventilated as we would like.”

What Claudia is performing on behalf of the customers who frequent her
skincare clinic is “hygiene theatre”. The term was first coined by the
Atlantic writer Derek Thompson in a July 2020 essay, in which he defined
hygiene theatre as Covid safety protocols “that make us feel safer, but
don’t actually do much to reduce risk, even as more dangerous activities
are still allowed”.

Hygiene theatre is plastic facial visors that do not protect wearers
from breathing in infected air or contaminating the people around them.
It is single-use cutlery and disposable menus in restaurants and shields
between tables. It is staff fastidiously cleaning communal touchpoints
in pubs while maskless groups chant football songs at full volume. It is
hazmat suit-wearing officials fumigating entire streets with
disinfectant. It is gyms that require people to wipe down every piece of
equipment they touch, but do not make them wear masks. It is
quarantining your post by the front door and wiping down your groceries
with bleach. All well-intentioned, but mostly ineffectual, gestures that
make us feel safe, but do not keep us safe from the threat posed by
Covid-19.

Advertisement

As England hurtles towards the removal of virtually all Covid
restrictions on 19 July, with the other devolved nations likely to
follow, albeit at a more cautious pace, a mantra of personal
responsibility is being promoted by the government. Masks will be
voluntary; social distancing scrapped; businesses no longer under any
obligation to increase the ventilation in their premises.

But infections are rising exponentially, and only just over half of the
total UK population have received two doses of the vaccine. From now on,
the individual decisions we take about how to stay safe in public spaces
will have powerful real-world consequences. As we enter the third wave
of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are rushing towards a dangerous new phase
in which hygiene theatre can do even more damage than it has.

Hygiene theatre builds on a concept originated by the security expert
Bruce Schneier in his 2003 book, Beyond Fear. Schneier coined the term
“security theatre” to describe the safety measures implemented at
airports after the 9/11 terror attacks, such as banning nail scissors
and cigarette lighters. In reality, these measures were pointless: a
complicated charade to reassure nervous passengers rather than anything
grounded in reality. They also came at a huge cost to taxpayers – the US
has spent more than $100bn on aviation security since 9/11.

Schneier agrees that Covid-19 has ushered in an era of hygiene theatre.
“Like security theatre,” he says, “hygiene theatre comes from bad risk
analysis – really, from ignorance.” At the beginning of the pandemic,
Schneier says, this was understandable. “Nobody knew anything,” he says.
“We were all confused about what the right thing was to do. We
legitimately didn’t know.”

According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000 Photograph: Peter
Dazeley/Getty Images
Advertisement

In those fear-filled days of February and March 2020, many experts and
healthcare authorities believed that Covid-19 was primarily transmitted
through droplets, through skin-on-skin contact, such as shaking hands,
being coughed on by an infected person or touching something they had
recently touched. (Infection via contaminated surfaces is known as
fomite transmission.) Academics told the public not to bother wearing
masks, as the virus was not airborne, so masks would be futile.

This is why all the public health messaging from this time was about
minimising direct contact. “Hands, face, space,” we repeated like a
magic spell, as we shopped in supermarkets without face masks, pausing
in poorly ventilated aisles to sanitise our hands. (Masks were not
mandated on public transport and hospitals in England until 15 June, and
in shops from 24 July.) Cabinet ministers at daily coronavirus press
conferences persistently reminded the public to wash their hands.

Lost in this was any recognition of the dangers of airborne Covid-19
transmission. “Basic hand hygiene,” says Dr Christine Peters, a
consultant medical microbiologist and virologist at Glasgow NHS trust.
“That message got out very early, and that became the fixation of the
public and politicians. But it was to the detriment of the other
important message, which is: think about the air.” The World Health
Organization (WHO) did not acknowledge the risk of airborne transmission
until July 2020; in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that fomite transmission of Covid-19
“isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads” in May 2020, and
updated its guidance to include airborne transmission in October 2020.
The UK government first acknowledged the risk of airborne Covid-19
transmission in about November 2020, although it was not until March
2021, more than a year since the pandemic first hit UK shores, that it
finally published guidance on ventilation in indoor settings.

According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000. And yet we remain obsessed
with fomite transmission of Covid-19, as do our elected leaders. In
June, a glove-wearing Boris Johnson was filmed wiping down a plastic
chair, in a worrying indication of the prime minister’s lack of
understanding. And when the G7 met in Cornwall, news cameras broadcast
footage of hotel staff wiping down railings outside the hotel hosting
the summit, in a bit of high-profile hygiene theatre.

Even at the government press conference announcing the relaxation of
restrictions on 5 July, the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, talked
about handwashing, but not ventilation. “One of the problems we had from
the beginning, that was critical at the time and actually still is
critical, is senior people did not understand well enough the problem of
… it being airborne,” said the former government aide Dominic Cummings
in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it excerpt from his marathon select committee
appearance in May.

For some people who are susceptible to obsessive-compulsive disorder, it
has been devastating
Advertisement

How to explain this continued misapprehension? “Shakespeare puts it
well,” says Dr Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers. “What is
done cannot be undone. There was a great preoccupation with fomite
transmission at the beginning of the pandemic. And that stuck.” Goldman
was a leading voice challenging hygiene theatre throughout the pandemic.
In July 2020, he wrote a sharp commentary for the Lancet Infectious
Diseases, calling into question the then-received wisdom that Covid-19
could be transmitted by infected surfaces. “When the pandemic started,”
he says, “my mother-in-law, who lives with us, was saying that we needed
to wash the groceries and disinfect the mail. As a scientist, it seemed
extreme, so I decided to look at the literature. And when I did, I was
horrified to see that the basis for those interventions was very weak.”

Since then, Goldman has campaigned for an end to hygiene theatre,
publishing in medical journals and reviewing the academic literature on
fomite transmission. “The battle continues,” he says, telling me that
the WHO continues to overemphasise the risk of Covid-19 transmission
from contaminated surfaces. In the UK, a similar role has been played by
the “fresh air” campaign, run by a group of frontline NHS workers
arguing for greater recognition of the dangers of airborne Covid
transmission in hospital settings, and better masks for NHS staff.

Many would argue that hygiene theatre is benign. Public toilets are
cleaner than they have ever been. “One legacy of the pandemic is that
general hygiene levels will increase,” says Dr Eilir Hughes of the NHS
fresh air campaign. “I don’t like security theatre when it’s expensive,”
says Schneier, “and the government is making the taxpayer pay for it.
But if it’s someone wiping down their groceries because it makes them
feel better, go to town.” Peters is sanguine about cleaning protocols in
healthcare settings in particular. “Trying to maintain a clean
environment in a hospital setting is fair enough.”

But hygiene theatre can lull people into a false sense of security. “I
roll my eyes when I see people walking around in visors,” sighs Hughes,
“because it’s such a shame.” There have been Covid outbreaks in
restaurants where workers used only plastic visors, instead of face
masks. (After one such outbreak in a Swiss hotel, local health officials
cautioned the public against wearing facial visors.) Hughes feels
similarly about hand sanitiser. “It gives people this sense of an
invisible cloak.”

‘I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really bad dermatitis because of
this obsession with hand hygiene.’
‘I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really bad dermatitis because of
this obsession with hand hygiene.’ Photograph: Tahreer Photography/Getty
Images
Advertisement

Hygiene theatre can be actively dangerous because it prevents people
from making informed choices about the levels of risk they’re willing to
accept in their lives. “Your feelings of safety have to be
science-based,” says Peters. “People can make their own judgment calls
about the risks they are willing to tolerate, but the key is for people
to understand how Covid spreads.” She fears that hygiene theatre causes
people to avoid taking the mitigating measures that actually would
reduce risk, such as opening windows or investing in high-efficiency
particulate air purifiers. “In a restaurant,” Peters says, “instead of
looking at how many hand sanitisers there are on the table, people
should be looking at reassurances around the air exchanges.” With all
restrictions on indoor contact likely to cease in England on 19 July,
correctly assessing the level of risk in any given setting will be
crucial. In short, it’s time to finally do away with hygiene theatre.

In addition, all those antibacterial wipes and single-use plastics are
environmentally ruinous. “It’s the waste we’re creating that I find
annoying, more than anything else,” Claudia says. Goldman says that
public institutions are spending vast sums on disinfectants and
cleaners. “For a year, the New York subway closed every night for deep
cleaning,” he says. “That cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Money
doesn’t grow on trees for public institutions.”

Transport for London installed more than 200 ultraviolet sanitising
devices on 110 escalators on the London underground, even as the
transport authority has to find £900m of savings or new income over the
coming year. Vendors of sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and cleaning
products post record profits: the manufacturers of Dettol and Lysol
recorded their highest-ever sales growth in 2020, largely due to the
pandemic.

It kind of makes you feel safer. Even though it’s completely illogical
Hughes is a practising GP. “I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really
bad dermatitis and skin irritation because of this obsession with hand
hygiene. And for people who are susceptible to obsessive-compulsive
disorder, particularly around hygiene, it’s been absolutely
devastating,” he says. For people with multiple chemical sensitivity
(MCS), too, an extreme sensitivity to fragranced products – such as
disinfectants, soaps or detergents – the hygiene theatre of the Covid-19
pandemic has been a nightmare.

“It’s unbearable,” sighs Anna Meyerson, a 59-year-old dentist from
Westchester, Pennsylvania. First diagnosed with MCS in 2016, Meyerson
has been essentially housebound for years. “There’s only one place I can
eat near me,” she says, “and it took me years to get them to stop using
air fresheners.” But the pandemic has exacerbated her condition. Before,
her husband could do the food shopping without incident. “Now, with
Covid, they fumigate and disinfect everything,” she says, “and that
permeates my husband’s clothes and makes me sick. Before, when he came
back from the store, it would be fine. Now he has to shower.” She is
desperate for hygiene theatre to stop. “They are killing me with all
these chemicals.”

Advertisement

How to explain this befuddling attachment to hygiene theatre when we
know that it does not measurably keep us safe, comes at an exorbitant
cost and can be measurably damaging to some people? “People are keeping
it up because it’s largely self-soothing,” says Schneier. “This is how I
feel better.”

“Even though I know in my head that wiping everything down makes no
difference,” says Claudia, “it kind of makes you feel safer. Even though
it’s completely illogical … it’s like, peace of mind.”

At its heart, hygiene theatre is a perhaps inevitable response to the
worst public health crisis in a century. Because when events career out
of control, humans respond the only way they know how: by attempting to
impose order upon chaos, one Dettol wipe at a time.

Some names have been changed.
--
This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
https://www.avg.com
HeartDoc Andrew
2021-07-12 14:01:35 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Michael Ejercito
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/12/hygiene-theatre-how-excessive-cleaning-gives-us-a-false-sense-of-security
Hygiene theatre: how excessive cleaning gives us a false sense of security
c
‘Instead of looking at how many hand sanitisers there, people should be
looking at reassurances around the ventilation.’ Composite: Getty
Covid-19 is a mainly airborne disease. So does our endless disinfecting
and hand sanitising serve any purpose – or could it be worse than useless?
Sirin Kale
Sirin Kale
Mon 12 Jul 2021 05.30 EDT
185
Claudia, a 26-year-old beauty worker, dreads it when her clients ask to
go to the toilet. “It’s a whole other thing to clean,” she says. “They
could have touched anything in there. I have to wipe down the whole
thing with antibacterial spray and wipes.”
It is her job to maintain stringent cleaning protocols at the London
skincare clinic where she works. When clients arrive for their
appointments, Claudia checks them in, offers them a drink – the clinic
only uses disposable cups or plastic water bottles – and takes them
through to the treatment room.
Once her colleague is performing their treatment, Claudia begins
furiously scrubbing every surface the customer could conceivably have
touched.
After the customer leaves, Claudia scours the treatment room and
replaces all the towels before wiping down the pump dispenser on the
antibacterial hand gel visitors use when arriving. Then, when a new
customer arrives, the process begins again. “I’ve had a few clients
saying they feel really safe in here,” Claudia says, “because they know
we are really careful and cautious about sanitising everything.”
Advertisement
Firefighters struggle to contain exploding northern California wildfire
Which makes it strange that the one measure that would contribute most
to the safety of the clients and workers in Claudia’s clinic isn’t being
implemented: ventilation.
Covid-19 is an airborne disease that is principally transmitted through
respiratory droplets, as well as aerosols, that can linger in the air
for many minutes after an infected person has left a room, and travel
metres in distance. The most effective way to minimise the risk of Covid
transmission in indoor settings is to open as many windows and doors as
possible and mandate mask use.
But, although a window at the back of the clinic is open, the front door
is closed. “We can’t have the door at the front open,” Claudia says,
“because we’re on the main road. It’s more the security element than
anything. Someone could just walk straight in … it’s probably not as
well ventilated as we would like.”
What Claudia is performing on behalf of the customers who frequent her
skincare clinic is “hygiene theatre”. The term was first coined by the
Atlantic writer Derek Thompson in a July 2020 essay, in which he defined
hygiene theatre as Covid safety protocols “that make us feel safer, but
don’t actually do much to reduce risk, even as more dangerous activities
are still allowed”.
Hygiene theatre is plastic facial visors that do not protect wearers
from breathing in infected air or contaminating the people around them.
It is single-use cutlery and disposable menus in restaurants and shields
between tables. It is staff fastidiously cleaning communal touchpoints
in pubs while maskless groups chant football songs at full volume. It is
hazmat suit-wearing officials fumigating entire streets with
disinfectant. It is gyms that require people to wipe down every piece of
equipment they touch, but do not make them wear masks. It is
quarantining your post by the front door and wiping down your groceries
with bleach. All well-intentioned, but mostly ineffectual, gestures that
make us feel safe, but do not keep us safe from the threat posed by
Covid-19.
Advertisement
As England hurtles towards the removal of virtually all Covid
restrictions on 19 July, with the other devolved nations likely to
follow, albeit at a more cautious pace, a mantra of personal
responsibility is being promoted by the government. Masks will be
voluntary; social distancing scrapped; businesses no longer under any
obligation to increase the ventilation in their premises.
But infections are rising exponentially, and only just over half of the
total UK population have received two doses of the vaccine. From now on,
the individual decisions we take about how to stay safe in public spaces
will have powerful real-world consequences. As we enter the third wave
of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are rushing towards a dangerous new phase
in which hygiene theatre can do even more damage than it has.
Hygiene theatre builds on a concept originated by the security expert
Bruce Schneier in his 2003 book, Beyond Fear. Schneier coined the term
“security theatre” to describe the safety measures implemented at
airports after the 9/11 terror attacks, such as banning nail scissors
and cigarette lighters. In reality, these measures were pointless: a
complicated charade to reassure nervous passengers rather than anything
grounded in reality. They also came at a huge cost to taxpayers – the US
has spent more than $100bn on aviation security since 9/11.
Schneier agrees that Covid-19 has ushered in an era of hygiene theatre.
“Like security theatre,” he says, “hygiene theatre comes from bad risk
analysis – really, from ignorance.” At the beginning of the pandemic,
Schneier says, this was understandable. “Nobody knew anything,” he says.
“We were all confused about what the right thing was to do. We
legitimately didn’t know.”
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000 Photograph: Peter
Dazeley/Getty Images
Advertisement
In those fear-filled days of February and March 2020, many experts and
healthcare authorities believed that Covid-19 was primarily transmitted
through droplets, through skin-on-skin contact, such as shaking hands,
being coughed on by an infected person or touching something they had
recently touched. (Infection via contaminated surfaces is known as
fomite transmission.) Academics told the public not to bother wearing
masks, as the virus was not airborne, so masks would be futile.
This is why all the public health messaging from this time was about
minimising direct contact. “Hands, face, space,” we repeated like a
magic spell, as we shopped in supermarkets without face masks, pausing
in poorly ventilated aisles to sanitise our hands. (Masks were not
mandated on public transport and hospitals in England until 15 June, and
in shops from 24 July.) Cabinet ministers at daily coronavirus press
conferences persistently reminded the public to wash their hands.
Lost in this was any recognition of the dangers of airborne Covid-19
transmission. “Basic hand hygiene,” says Dr Christine Peters, a
consultant medical microbiologist and virologist at Glasgow NHS trust.
“That message got out very early, and that became the fixation of the
public and politicians. But it was to the detriment of the other
important message, which is: think about the air.” The World Health
Organization (WHO) did not acknowledge the risk of airborne transmission
until July 2020; in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that fomite transmission of Covid-19
“isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads” in May 2020, and
updated its guidance to include airborne transmission in October 2020.
The UK government first acknowledged the risk of airborne Covid-19
transmission in about November 2020, although it was not until March
2021, more than a year since the pandemic first hit UK shores, that it
finally published guidance on ventilation in indoor settings.
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000. And yet we remain obsessed
with fomite transmission of Covid-19, as do our elected leaders. In
June, a glove-wearing Boris Johnson was filmed wiping down a plastic
chair, in a worrying indication of the prime minister’s lack of
understanding. And when the G7 met in Cornwall, news cameras broadcast
footage of hotel staff wiping down railings outside the hotel hosting
the summit, in a bit of high-profile hygiene theatre.
Even at the government press conference announcing the relaxation of
restrictions on 5 July, the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, talked
about handwashing, but not ventilation. “One of the problems we had from
the beginning, that was critical at the time and actually still is
critical, is senior people did not understand well enough the problem of
… it being airborne,” said the former government aide Dominic Cummings
in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it excerpt from his marathon select committee
appearance in May.
For some people who are susceptible to obsessive-compulsive disorder, it
has been devastating
Advertisement
How to explain this continued misapprehension? “Shakespeare puts it
well,” says Dr Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers. “What is
done cannot be undone. There was a great preoccupation with fomite
transmission at the beginning of the pandemic. And that stuck.” Goldman
was a leading voice challenging hygiene theatre throughout the pandemic.
In July 2020, he wrote a sharp commentary for the Lancet Infectious
Diseases, calling into question the then-received wisdom that Covid-19
could be transmitted by infected surfaces. “When the pandemic started,”
he says, “my mother-in-law, who lives with us, was saying that we needed
to wash the groceries and disinfect the mail. As a scientist, it seemed
extreme, so I decided to look at the literature. And when I did, I was
horrified to see that the basis for those interventions was very weak.”
Since then, Goldman has campaigned for an end to hygiene theatre,
publishing in medical journals and reviewing the academic literature on
fomite transmission. “The battle continues,” he says, telling me that
the WHO continues to overemphasise the risk of Covid-19 transmission
from contaminated surfaces. In the UK, a similar role has been played by
the “fresh air” campaign, run by a group of frontline NHS workers
arguing for greater recognition of the dangers of airborne Covid
transmission in hospital settings, and better masks for NHS staff.
Many would argue that hygiene theatre is benign. Public toilets are
cleaner than they have ever been. “One legacy of the pandemic is that
general hygiene levels will increase,” says Dr Eilir Hughes of the NHS
fresh air campaign. “I don’t like security theatre when it’s expensive,”
says Schneier, “and the government is making the taxpayer pay for it.
But if it’s someone wiping down their groceries because it makes them
feel better, go to town.” Peters is sanguine about cleaning protocols in
healthcare settings in particular. “Trying to maintain a clean
environment in a hospital setting is fair enough.”
But hygiene theatre can lull people into a false sense of security. “I
roll my eyes when I see people walking around in visors,” sighs Hughes,
“because it’s such a shame.” There have been Covid outbreaks in
restaurants where workers used only plastic visors, instead of face
masks. (After one such outbreak in a Swiss hotel, local health officials
cautioned the public against wearing facial visors.) Hughes feels
similarly about hand sanitiser. “It gives people this sense of an
invisible cloak.”
‘I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really bad dermatitis because of
this obsession with hand hygiene.’
‘I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really bad dermatitis because of
this obsession with hand hygiene.’ Photograph: Tahreer Photography/Getty
Images
Advertisement
Hygiene theatre can be actively dangerous because it prevents people
from making informed choices about the levels of risk they’re willing to
accept in their lives. “Your feelings of safety have to be
science-based,” says Peters. “People can make their own judgment calls
about the risks they are willing to tolerate, but the key is for people
to understand how Covid spreads.” She fears that hygiene theatre causes
people to avoid taking the mitigating measures that actually would
reduce risk, such as opening windows or investing in high-efficiency
particulate air purifiers. “In a restaurant,” Peters says, “instead of
looking at how many hand sanitisers there are on the table, people
should be looking at reassurances around the air exchanges.” With all
restrictions on indoor contact likely to cease in England on 19 July,
correctly assessing the level of risk in any given setting will be
crucial. In short, it’s time to finally do away with hygiene theatre.
In addition, all those antibacterial wipes and single-use plastics are
environmentally ruinous. “It’s the waste we’re creating that I find
annoying, more than anything else,” Claudia says. Goldman says that
public institutions are spending vast sums on disinfectants and
cleaners. “For a year, the New York subway closed every night for deep
cleaning,” he says. “That cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Money
doesn’t grow on trees for public institutions.”
Transport for London installed more than 200 ultraviolet sanitising
devices on 110 escalators on the London underground, even as the
transport authority has to find £900m of savings or new income over the
coming year. Vendors of sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and cleaning
products post record profits: the manufacturers of Dettol and Lysol
recorded their highest-ever sales growth in 2020, largely due to the
pandemic.
It kind of makes you feel safer. Even though it’s completely illogical
Hughes is a practising GP. “I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really
bad dermatitis and skin irritation because of this obsession with hand
hygiene. And for people who are susceptible to obsessive-compulsive
disorder, particularly around hygiene, it’s been absolutely
devastating,” he says. For people with multiple chemical sensitivity
(MCS), too, an extreme sensitivity to fragranced products – such as
disinfectants, soaps or detergents – the hygiene theatre of the Covid-19
pandemic has been a nightmare.
“It’s unbearable,” sighs Anna Meyerson, a 59-year-old dentist from
Westchester, Pennsylvania. First diagnosed with MCS in 2016, Meyerson
has been essentially housebound for years. “There’s only one place I can
eat near me,” she says, “and it took me years to get them to stop using
air fresheners.” But the pandemic has exacerbated her condition. Before,
her husband could do the food shopping without incident. “Now, with
Covid, they fumigate and disinfect everything,” she says, “and that
permeates my husband’s clothes and makes me sick. Before, when he came
back from the store, it would be fine. Now he has to shower.” She is
desperate for hygiene theatre to stop. “They are killing me with all
these chemicals.”
Advertisement
How to explain this befuddling attachment to hygiene theatre when we
know that it does not measurably keep us safe, comes at an exorbitant
cost and can be measurably damaging to some people? “People are keeping
it up because it’s largely self-soothing,” says Schneier. “This is how I
feel better.”
“Even though I know in my head that wiping everything down makes no
difference,” says Claudia, “it kind of makes you feel safer. Even though
it’s completely illogical … it’s like, peace of mind.”
At its heart, hygiene theatre is a perhaps inevitable response to the
worst public health crisis in a century. Because when events career out
of control, humans respond the only way they know how: by attempting to
impose order upon chaos, one Dettol wipe at a time.
Some names have been changed.
The only *healthy* way to stop the pandemic, thereby saving lives, in
the U.K. & elsewhere is by rapidly ( http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 )
finding out at any given moment, including even while on-line, who
among us are unwittingly contagious (i.e pre-symptomatic or
asymptomatic) in order to http://bit.ly/convince_it_forward (John
15:12) for them to call their doctor and self-quarantine per their
doctor in hopes of stopping this pandemic. Thus, we're hoping for the
best while preparing for the worse-case scenario of the Alpha lineage
mutations and others like the Gamma, Beta, Epsilon, Iota, & Delta
lineage mutations combining to form hybrids that render current COVID
vaccines no longer effective.

Indeed, I am wonderfully hungry ( http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 )
and hope you, Michael, also have a healthy appetite too.

So how are you ?








...because we mindfully choose to openly care with our heart,

HeartDoc Andrew <><
--
Andrew B. Chung, MD/PhD
Cardiologist with an http://bit.ly/EternalMedicalLicense
2016 & upwards non-partisan candidate for U.S. President:
http://bit.ly/WonderfullyHungryPresident
and author of the 2PD-OMER Approach:
http://bit.ly/HeartDocAndrewCare
which is the only **healthy** cure for the U.S. healthcare crisis
Michael Ejercito
2021-07-12 14:34:59 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by HeartDoc Andrew
Post by Michael Ejercito
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/12/hygiene-theatre-how-excessive-cleaning-gives-us-a-false-sense-of-security
Hygiene theatre: how excessive cleaning gives us a false sense of security
c
‘Instead of looking at how many hand sanitisers there, people should be
looking at reassurances around the ventilation.’ Composite: Getty
Covid-19 is a mainly airborne disease. So does our endless disinfecting
and hand sanitising serve any purpose – or could it be worse than useless?
Sirin Kale
Sirin Kale
Mon 12 Jul 2021 05.30 EDT
185
Claudia, a 26-year-old beauty worker, dreads it when her clients ask to
go to the toilet. “It’s a whole other thing to clean,” she says. “They
could have touched anything in there. I have to wipe down the whole
thing with antibacterial spray and wipes.”
It is her job to maintain stringent cleaning protocols at the London
skincare clinic where she works. When clients arrive for their
appointments, Claudia checks them in, offers them a drink – the clinic
only uses disposable cups or plastic water bottles – and takes them
through to the treatment room.
Once her colleague is performing their treatment, Claudia begins
furiously scrubbing every surface the customer could conceivably have
touched.
After the customer leaves, Claudia scours the treatment room and
replaces all the towels before wiping down the pump dispenser on the
antibacterial hand gel visitors use when arriving. Then, when a new
customer arrives, the process begins again. “I’ve had a few clients
saying they feel really safe in here,” Claudia says, “because they know
we are really careful and cautious about sanitising everything.”
Advertisement
Firefighters struggle to contain exploding northern California wildfire
Which makes it strange that the one measure that would contribute most
to the safety of the clients and workers in Claudia’s clinic isn’t being
implemented: ventilation.
Covid-19 is an airborne disease that is principally transmitted through
respiratory droplets, as well as aerosols, that can linger in the air
for many minutes after an infected person has left a room, and travel
metres in distance. The most effective way to minimise the risk of Covid
transmission in indoor settings is to open as many windows and doors as
possible and mandate mask use.
But, although a window at the back of the clinic is open, the front door
is closed. “We can’t have the door at the front open,” Claudia says,
“because we’re on the main road. It’s more the security element than
anything. Someone could just walk straight in … it’s probably not as
well ventilated as we would like.”
What Claudia is performing on behalf of the customers who frequent her
skincare clinic is “hygiene theatre”. The term was first coined by the
Atlantic writer Derek Thompson in a July 2020 essay, in which he defined
hygiene theatre as Covid safety protocols “that make us feel safer, but
don’t actually do much to reduce risk, even as more dangerous activities
are still allowed”.
Hygiene theatre is plastic facial visors that do not protect wearers
from breathing in infected air or contaminating the people around them.
It is single-use cutlery and disposable menus in restaurants and shields
between tables. It is staff fastidiously cleaning communal touchpoints
in pubs while maskless groups chant football songs at full volume. It is
hazmat suit-wearing officials fumigating entire streets with
disinfectant. It is gyms that require people to wipe down every piece of
equipment they touch, but do not make them wear masks. It is
quarantining your post by the front door and wiping down your groceries
with bleach. All well-intentioned, but mostly ineffectual, gestures that
make us feel safe, but do not keep us safe from the threat posed by
Covid-19.
Advertisement
As England hurtles towards the removal of virtually all Covid
restrictions on 19 July, with the other devolved nations likely to
follow, albeit at a more cautious pace, a mantra of personal
responsibility is being promoted by the government. Masks will be
voluntary; social distancing scrapped; businesses no longer under any
obligation to increase the ventilation in their premises.
But infections are rising exponentially, and only just over half of the
total UK population have received two doses of the vaccine. From now on,
the individual decisions we take about how to stay safe in public spaces
will have powerful real-world consequences. As we enter the third wave
of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are rushing towards a dangerous new phase
in which hygiene theatre can do even more damage than it has.
Hygiene theatre builds on a concept originated by the security expert
Bruce Schneier in his 2003 book, Beyond Fear. Schneier coined the term
“security theatre” to describe the safety measures implemented at
airports after the 9/11 terror attacks, such as banning nail scissors
and cigarette lighters. In reality, these measures were pointless: a
complicated charade to reassure nervous passengers rather than anything
grounded in reality. They also came at a huge cost to taxpayers – the US
has spent more than $100bn on aviation security since 9/11.
Schneier agrees that Covid-19 has ushered in an era of hygiene theatre.
“Like security theatre,” he says, “hygiene theatre comes from bad risk
analysis – really, from ignorance.” At the beginning of the pandemic,
Schneier says, this was understandable. “Nobody knew anything,” he says.
“We were all confused about what the right thing was to do. We
legitimately didn’t know.”
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000 Photograph: Peter
Dazeley/Getty Images
Advertisement
In those fear-filled days of February and March 2020, many experts and
healthcare authorities believed that Covid-19 was primarily transmitted
through droplets, through skin-on-skin contact, such as shaking hands,
being coughed on by an infected person or touching something they had
recently touched. (Infection via contaminated surfaces is known as
fomite transmission.) Academics told the public not to bother wearing
masks, as the virus was not airborne, so masks would be futile.
This is why all the public health messaging from this time was about
minimising direct contact. “Hands, face, space,” we repeated like a
magic spell, as we shopped in supermarkets without face masks, pausing
in poorly ventilated aisles to sanitise our hands. (Masks were not
mandated on public transport and hospitals in England until 15 June, and
in shops from 24 July.) Cabinet ministers at daily coronavirus press
conferences persistently reminded the public to wash their hands.
Lost in this was any recognition of the dangers of airborne Covid-19
transmission. “Basic hand hygiene,” says Dr Christine Peters, a
consultant medical microbiologist and virologist at Glasgow NHS trust.
“That message got out very early, and that became the fixation of the
public and politicians. But it was to the detriment of the other
important message, which is: think about the air.” The World Health
Organization (WHO) did not acknowledge the risk of airborne transmission
until July 2020; in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that fomite transmission of Covid-19
“isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads” in May 2020, and
updated its guidance to include airborne transmission in October 2020.
The UK government first acknowledged the risk of airborne Covid-19
transmission in about November 2020, although it was not until March
2021, more than a year since the pandemic first hit UK shores, that it
finally published guidance on ventilation in indoor settings.
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000. And yet we remain obsessed
with fomite transmission of Covid-19, as do our elected leaders. In
June, a glove-wearing Boris Johnson was filmed wiping down a plastic
chair, in a worrying indication of the prime minister’s lack of
understanding. And when the G7 met in Cornwall, news cameras broadcast
footage of hotel staff wiping down railings outside the hotel hosting
the summit, in a bit of high-profile hygiene theatre.
Even at the government press conference announcing the relaxation of
restrictions on 5 July, the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, talked
about handwashing, but not ventilation. “One of the problems we had from
the beginning, that was critical at the time and actually still is
critical, is senior people did not understand well enough the problem of
… it being airborne,” said the former government aide Dominic Cummings
in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it excerpt from his marathon select committee
appearance in May.
For some people who are susceptible to obsessive-compulsive disorder, it
has been devastating
Advertisement
How to explain this continued misapprehension? “Shakespeare puts it
well,” says Dr Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers. “What is
done cannot be undone. There was a great preoccupation with fomite
transmission at the beginning of the pandemic. And that stuck.” Goldman
was a leading voice challenging hygiene theatre throughout the pandemic.
In July 2020, he wrote a sharp commentary for the Lancet Infectious
Diseases, calling into question the then-received wisdom that Covid-19
could be transmitted by infected surfaces. “When the pandemic started,”
he says, “my mother-in-law, who lives with us, was saying that we needed
to wash the groceries and disinfect the mail. As a scientist, it seemed
extreme, so I decided to look at the literature. And when I did, I was
horrified to see that the basis for those interventions was very weak.”
Since then, Goldman has campaigned for an end to hygiene theatre,
publishing in medical journals and reviewing the academic literature on
fomite transmission. “The battle continues,” he says, telling me that
the WHO continues to overemphasise the risk of Covid-19 transmission
from contaminated surfaces. In the UK, a similar role has been played by
the “fresh air” campaign, run by a group of frontline NHS workers
arguing for greater recognition of the dangers of airborne Covid
transmission in hospital settings, and better masks for NHS staff.
Many would argue that hygiene theatre is benign. Public toilets are
cleaner than they have ever been. “One legacy of the pandemic is that
general hygiene levels will increase,” says Dr Eilir Hughes of the NHS
fresh air campaign. “I don’t like security theatre when it’s expensive,”
says Schneier, “and the government is making the taxpayer pay for it.
But if it’s someone wiping down their groceries because it makes them
feel better, go to town.” Peters is sanguine about cleaning protocols in
healthcare settings in particular. “Trying to maintain a clean
environment in a hospital setting is fair enough.”
But hygiene theatre can lull people into a false sense of security. “I
roll my eyes when I see people walking around in visors,” sighs Hughes,
“because it’s such a shame.” There have been Covid outbreaks in
restaurants where workers used only plastic visors, instead of face
masks. (After one such outbreak in a Swiss hotel, local health officials
cautioned the public against wearing facial visors.) Hughes feels
similarly about hand sanitiser. “It gives people this sense of an
invisible cloak.”
‘I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really bad dermatitis because of
this obsession with hand hygiene.’
‘I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really bad dermatitis because of
this obsession with hand hygiene.’ Photograph: Tahreer Photography/Getty
Images
Advertisement
Hygiene theatre can be actively dangerous because it prevents people
from making informed choices about the levels of risk they’re willing to
accept in their lives. “Your feelings of safety have to be
science-based,” says Peters. “People can make their own judgment calls
about the risks they are willing to tolerate, but the key is for people
to understand how Covid spreads.” She fears that hygiene theatre causes
people to avoid taking the mitigating measures that actually would
reduce risk, such as opening windows or investing in high-efficiency
particulate air purifiers. “In a restaurant,” Peters says, “instead of
looking at how many hand sanitisers there are on the table, people
should be looking at reassurances around the air exchanges.” With all
restrictions on indoor contact likely to cease in England on 19 July,
correctly assessing the level of risk in any given setting will be
crucial. In short, it’s time to finally do away with hygiene theatre.
In addition, all those antibacterial wipes and single-use plastics are
environmentally ruinous. “It’s the waste we’re creating that I find
annoying, more than anything else,” Claudia says. Goldman says that
public institutions are spending vast sums on disinfectants and
cleaners. “For a year, the New York subway closed every night for deep
cleaning,” he says. “That cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Money
doesn’t grow on trees for public institutions.”
Transport for London installed more than 200 ultraviolet sanitising
devices on 110 escalators on the London underground, even as the
transport authority has to find £900m of savings or new income over the
coming year. Vendors of sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and cleaning
products post record profits: the manufacturers of Dettol and Lysol
recorded their highest-ever sales growth in 2020, largely due to the
pandemic.
It kind of makes you feel safer. Even though it’s completely illogical
Hughes is a practising GP. “I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really
bad dermatitis and skin irritation because of this obsession with hand
hygiene. And for people who are susceptible to obsessive-compulsive
disorder, particularly around hygiene, it’s been absolutely
devastating,” he says. For people with multiple chemical sensitivity
(MCS), too, an extreme sensitivity to fragranced products – such as
disinfectants, soaps or detergents – the hygiene theatre of the Covid-19
pandemic has been a nightmare.
“It’s unbearable,” sighs Anna Meyerson, a 59-year-old dentist from
Westchester, Pennsylvania. First diagnosed with MCS in 2016, Meyerson
has been essentially housebound for years. “There’s only one place I can
eat near me,” she says, “and it took me years to get them to stop using
air fresheners.” But the pandemic has exacerbated her condition. Before,
her husband could do the food shopping without incident. “Now, with
Covid, they fumigate and disinfect everything,” she says, “and that
permeates my husband’s clothes and makes me sick. Before, when he came
back from the store, it would be fine. Now he has to shower.” She is
desperate for hygiene theatre to stop. “They are killing me with all
these chemicals.”
Advertisement
How to explain this befuddling attachment to hygiene theatre when we
know that it does not measurably keep us safe, comes at an exorbitant
cost and can be measurably damaging to some people? “People are keeping
it up because it’s largely self-soothing,” says Schneier. “This is how I
feel better.”
“Even though I know in my head that wiping everything down makes no
difference,” says Claudia, “it kind of makes you feel safer. Even though
it’s completely illogical … it’s like, peace of mind.”
At its heart, hygiene theatre is a perhaps inevitable response to the
worst public health crisis in a century. Because when events career out
of control, humans respond the only way they know how: by attempting to
impose order upon chaos, one Dettol wipe at a time.
Some names have been changed.
The only *healthy* way to stop the pandemic, thereby saving lives, in
the U.K. & elsewhere is by rapidly ( http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 )
finding out at any given moment, including even while on-line, who
among us are unwittingly contagious (i.e pre-symptomatic or
asymptomatic) in order to http://bit.ly/convince_it_forward (John
15:12) for them to call their doctor and self-quarantine per their
doctor in hopes of stopping this pandemic. Thus, we're hoping for the
best while preparing for the worse-case scenario of the Alpha lineage
mutations and others like the Gamma, Beta, Epsilon, Iota, & Delta
lineage mutations combining to form hybrids that render current COVID
vaccines no longer effective.
Indeed, I am wonderfully hungry ( http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 )
and hope you, Michael, also have a healthy appetite too.
So how are you ?
...because we mindfully choose to openly care with our heart,
HeartDoc Andrew <><
I am wonderfully hungry!


Michael
--
This email has been checked for viruses by AVG.
https://www.avg.com
HeartDoc Andrew
2021-07-12 14:41:37 UTC
Reply
Permalink
Post by Michael Ejercito
Post by HeartDoc Andrew
Post by Michael Ejercito
http://www.theguardian.com/society/2021/jul/12/hygiene-theatre-how-excessive-cleaning-gives-us-a-false-sense-of-security
Hygiene theatre: how excessive cleaning gives us a false sense of security
c
‘Instead of looking at how many hand sanitisers there, people should be
looking at reassurances around the ventilation.’ Composite: Getty
Covid-19 is a mainly airborne disease. So does our endless disinfecting
and hand sanitising serve any purpose – or could it be worse than useless?
Sirin Kale
Sirin Kale
Mon 12 Jul 2021 05.30 EDT
185
Claudia, a 26-year-old beauty worker, dreads it when her clients ask to
go to the toilet. “It’s a whole other thing to clean,” she says. “They
could have touched anything in there. I have to wipe down the whole
thing with antibacterial spray and wipes.”
It is her job to maintain stringent cleaning protocols at the London
skincare clinic where she works. When clients arrive for their
appointments, Claudia checks them in, offers them a drink – the clinic
only uses disposable cups or plastic water bottles – and takes them
through to the treatment room.
Once her colleague is performing their treatment, Claudia begins
furiously scrubbing every surface the customer could conceivably have
touched.
After the customer leaves, Claudia scours the treatment room and
replaces all the towels before wiping down the pump dispenser on the
antibacterial hand gel visitors use when arriving. Then, when a new
customer arrives, the process begins again. “I’ve had a few clients
saying they feel really safe in here,” Claudia says, “because they know
we are really careful and cautious about sanitising everything.”
Advertisement
Firefighters struggle to contain exploding northern California wildfire
Which makes it strange that the one measure that would contribute most
to the safety of the clients and workers in Claudia’s clinic isn’t being
implemented: ventilation.
Covid-19 is an airborne disease that is principally transmitted through
respiratory droplets, as well as aerosols, that can linger in the air
for many minutes after an infected person has left a room, and travel
metres in distance. The most effective way to minimise the risk of Covid
transmission in indoor settings is to open as many windows and doors as
possible and mandate mask use.
But, although a window at the back of the clinic is open, the front door
is closed. “We can’t have the door at the front open,” Claudia says,
“because we’re on the main road. It’s more the security element than
anything. Someone could just walk straight in … it’s probably not as
well ventilated as we would like.”
What Claudia is performing on behalf of the customers who frequent her
skincare clinic is “hygiene theatre”. The term was first coined by the
Atlantic writer Derek Thompson in a July 2020 essay, in which he defined
hygiene theatre as Covid safety protocols “that make us feel safer, but
don’t actually do much to reduce risk, even as more dangerous activities
are still allowed”.
Hygiene theatre is plastic facial visors that do not protect wearers
from breathing in infected air or contaminating the people around them.
It is single-use cutlery and disposable menus in restaurants and shields
between tables. It is staff fastidiously cleaning communal touchpoints
in pubs while maskless groups chant football songs at full volume. It is
hazmat suit-wearing officials fumigating entire streets with
disinfectant. It is gyms that require people to wipe down every piece of
equipment they touch, but do not make them wear masks. It is
quarantining your post by the front door and wiping down your groceries
with bleach. All well-intentioned, but mostly ineffectual, gestures that
make us feel safe, but do not keep us safe from the threat posed by
Covid-19.
Advertisement
As England hurtles towards the removal of virtually all Covid
restrictions on 19 July, with the other devolved nations likely to
follow, albeit at a more cautious pace, a mantra of personal
responsibility is being promoted by the government. Masks will be
voluntary; social distancing scrapped; businesses no longer under any
obligation to increase the ventilation in their premises.
But infections are rising exponentially, and only just over half of the
total UK population have received two doses of the vaccine. From now on,
the individual decisions we take about how to stay safe in public spaces
will have powerful real-world consequences. As we enter the third wave
of the Covid-19 pandemic, we are rushing towards a dangerous new phase
in which hygiene theatre can do even more damage than it has.
Hygiene theatre builds on a concept originated by the security expert
Bruce Schneier in his 2003 book, Beyond Fear. Schneier coined the term
“security theatre” to describe the safety measures implemented at
airports after the 9/11 terror attacks, such as banning nail scissors
and cigarette lighters. In reality, these measures were pointless: a
complicated charade to reassure nervous passengers rather than anything
grounded in reality. They also came at a huge cost to taxpayers – the US
has spent more than $100bn on aviation security since 9/11.
Schneier agrees that Covid-19 has ushered in an era of hygiene theatre.
“Like security theatre,” he says, “hygiene theatre comes from bad risk
analysis – really, from ignorance.” At the beginning of the pandemic,
Schneier says, this was understandable. “Nobody knew anything,” he says.
“We were all confused about what the right thing was to do. We
legitimately didn’t know.”
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000 Photograph: Peter
Dazeley/Getty Images
Advertisement
In those fear-filled days of February and March 2020, many experts and
healthcare authorities believed that Covid-19 was primarily transmitted
through droplets, through skin-on-skin contact, such as shaking hands,
being coughed on by an infected person or touching something they had
recently touched. (Infection via contaminated surfaces is known as
fomite transmission.) Academics told the public not to bother wearing
masks, as the virus was not airborne, so masks would be futile.
This is why all the public health messaging from this time was about
minimising direct contact. “Hands, face, space,” we repeated like a
magic spell, as we shopped in supermarkets without face masks, pausing
in poorly ventilated aisles to sanitise our hands. (Masks were not
mandated on public transport and hospitals in England until 15 June, and
in shops from 24 July.) Cabinet ministers at daily coronavirus press
conferences persistently reminded the public to wash their hands.
Lost in this was any recognition of the dangers of airborne Covid-19
transmission. “Basic hand hygiene,” says Dr Christine Peters, a
consultant medical microbiologist and virologist at Glasgow NHS trust.
“That message got out very early, and that became the fixation of the
public and politicians. But it was to the detriment of the other
important message, which is: think about the air.” The World Health
Organization (WHO) did not acknowledge the risk of airborne transmission
until July 2020; in the US, the Centers for Disease Control and
Prevention (CDC) acknowledged that fomite transmission of Covid-19
“isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads” in May 2020, and
updated its guidance to include airborne transmission in October 2020.
The UK government first acknowledged the risk of airborne Covid-19
transmission in about November 2020, although it was not until March
2021, more than a year since the pandemic first hit UK shores, that it
finally published guidance on ventilation in indoor settings.
According to the CDC, the chance of contracting Covid-19 from a single
infected surface is less than 1 in 10,000. And yet we remain obsessed
with fomite transmission of Covid-19, as do our elected leaders. In
June, a glove-wearing Boris Johnson was filmed wiping down a plastic
chair, in a worrying indication of the prime minister’s lack of
understanding. And when the G7 met in Cornwall, news cameras broadcast
footage of hotel staff wiping down railings outside the hotel hosting
the summit, in a bit of high-profile hygiene theatre.
Even at the government press conference announcing the relaxation of
restrictions on 5 July, the chief medical officer, Chris Whitty, talked
about handwashing, but not ventilation. “One of the problems we had from
the beginning, that was critical at the time and actually still is
critical, is senior people did not understand well enough the problem of
… it being airborne,” said the former government aide Dominic Cummings
in a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it excerpt from his marathon select committee
appearance in May.
For some people who are susceptible to obsessive-compulsive disorder, it
has been devastating
Advertisement
How to explain this continued misapprehension? “Shakespeare puts it
well,” says Dr Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers. “What is
done cannot be undone. There was a great preoccupation with fomite
transmission at the beginning of the pandemic. And that stuck.” Goldman
was a leading voice challenging hygiene theatre throughout the pandemic.
In July 2020, he wrote a sharp commentary for the Lancet Infectious
Diseases, calling into question the then-received wisdom that Covid-19
could be transmitted by infected surfaces. “When the pandemic started,”
he says, “my mother-in-law, who lives with us, was saying that we needed
to wash the groceries and disinfect the mail. As a scientist, it seemed
extreme, so I decided to look at the literature. And when I did, I was
horrified to see that the basis for those interventions was very weak.”
Since then, Goldman has campaigned for an end to hygiene theatre,
publishing in medical journals and reviewing the academic literature on
fomite transmission. “The battle continues,” he says, telling me that
the WHO continues to overemphasise the risk of Covid-19 transmission
from contaminated surfaces. In the UK, a similar role has been played by
the “fresh air” campaign, run by a group of frontline NHS workers
arguing for greater recognition of the dangers of airborne Covid
transmission in hospital settings, and better masks for NHS staff.
Many would argue that hygiene theatre is benign. Public toilets are
cleaner than they have ever been. “One legacy of the pandemic is that
general hygiene levels will increase,” says Dr Eilir Hughes of the NHS
fresh air campaign. “I don’t like security theatre when it’s expensive,”
says Schneier, “and the government is making the taxpayer pay for it.
But if it’s someone wiping down their groceries because it makes them
feel better, go to town.” Peters is sanguine about cleaning protocols in
healthcare settings in particular. “Trying to maintain a clean
environment in a hospital setting is fair enough.”
But hygiene theatre can lull people into a false sense of security. “I
roll my eyes when I see people walking around in visors,” sighs Hughes,
“because it’s such a shame.” There have been Covid outbreaks in
restaurants where workers used only plastic visors, instead of face
masks. (After one such outbreak in a Swiss hotel, local health officials
cautioned the public against wearing facial visors.) Hughes feels
similarly about hand sanitiser. “It gives people this sense of an
invisible cloak.”
‘I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really bad dermatitis because of
this obsession with hand hygiene.’
‘I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really bad dermatitis because of
this obsession with hand hygiene.’ Photograph: Tahreer Photography/Getty
Images
Advertisement
Hygiene theatre can be actively dangerous because it prevents people
from making informed choices about the levels of risk they’re willing to
accept in their lives. “Your feelings of safety have to be
science-based,” says Peters. “People can make their own judgment calls
about the risks they are willing to tolerate, but the key is for people
to understand how Covid spreads.” She fears that hygiene theatre causes
people to avoid taking the mitigating measures that actually would
reduce risk, such as opening windows or investing in high-efficiency
particulate air purifiers. “In a restaurant,” Peters says, “instead of
looking at how many hand sanitisers there are on the table, people
should be looking at reassurances around the air exchanges.” With all
restrictions on indoor contact likely to cease in England on 19 July,
correctly assessing the level of risk in any given setting will be
crucial. In short, it’s time to finally do away with hygiene theatre.
In addition, all those antibacterial wipes and single-use plastics are
environmentally ruinous. “It’s the waste we’re creating that I find
annoying, more than anything else,” Claudia says. Goldman says that
public institutions are spending vast sums on disinfectants and
cleaners. “For a year, the New York subway closed every night for deep
cleaning,” he says. “That cost hundreds of thousands of dollars. Money
doesn’t grow on trees for public institutions.”
Transport for London installed more than 200 ultraviolet sanitising
devices on 110 escalators on the London underground, even as the
transport authority has to find £900m of savings or new income over the
coming year. Vendors of sanitiser, antibacterial wipes and cleaning
products post record profits: the manufacturers of Dettol and Lysol
recorded their highest-ever sales growth in 2020, largely due to the
pandemic.
It kind of makes you feel safer. Even though it’s completely illogical
Hughes is a practising GP. “I’ve seen a lot of people who’ve had really
bad dermatitis and skin irritation because of this obsession with hand
hygiene. And for people who are susceptible to obsessive-compulsive
disorder, particularly around hygiene, it’s been absolutely
devastating,” he says. For people with multiple chemical sensitivity
(MCS), too, an extreme sensitivity to fragranced products – such as
disinfectants, soaps or detergents – the hygiene theatre of the Covid-19
pandemic has been a nightmare.
“It’s unbearable,” sighs Anna Meyerson, a 59-year-old dentist from
Westchester, Pennsylvania. First diagnosed with MCS in 2016, Meyerson
has been essentially housebound for years. “There’s only one place I can
eat near me,” she says, “and it took me years to get them to stop using
air fresheners.” But the pandemic has exacerbated her condition. Before,
her husband could do the food shopping without incident. “Now, with
Covid, they fumigate and disinfect everything,” she says, “and that
permeates my husband’s clothes and makes me sick. Before, when he came
back from the store, it would be fine. Now he has to shower.” She is
desperate for hygiene theatre to stop. “They are killing me with all
these chemicals.”
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How to explain this befuddling attachment to hygiene theatre when we
know that it does not measurably keep us safe, comes at an exorbitant
cost and can be measurably damaging to some people? “People are keeping
it up because it’s largely self-soothing,” says Schneier. “This is how I
feel better.”
“Even though I know in my head that wiping everything down makes no
difference,” says Claudia, “it kind of makes you feel safer. Even though
it’s completely illogical … it’s like, peace of mind.”
At its heart, hygiene theatre is a perhaps inevitable response to the
worst public health crisis in a century. Because when events career out
of control, humans respond the only way they know how: by attempting to
impose order upon chaos, one Dettol wipe at a time.
Some names have been changed.
The only *healthy* way to stop the pandemic, thereby saving lives, in
the U.K. & elsewhere is by rapidly ( http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 )
finding out at any given moment, including even while on-line, who
among us are unwittingly contagious (i.e pre-symptomatic or
asymptomatic) in order to http://bit.ly/convince_it_forward (John
15:12) for them to call their doctor and self-quarantine per their
doctor in hopes of stopping this pandemic. Thus, we're hoping for the
best while preparing for the worse-case scenario of the Alpha lineage
mutations and others like the Gamma, Beta, Epsilon, Iota, & Delta
lineage mutations combining to form hybrids that render current COVID
vaccines no longer effective.
Indeed, I am wonderfully hungry ( http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 )
and hope you, Michael, also have a healthy appetite too.
So how are you ?
I am wonderfully hungry!
While wonderfully hungry in the Holy Spirit, Who causes (Deuteronomy
8:3) us to hunger, I note that you, Michael, not only don't have
COVID-19 but are rapture (Luke 17:37) ready and pray (2 Chronicles
7:14) that our Everlasting (Isaiah 9:6) Father in Heaven continues to
give us "much more" (Luke 11:13) Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23) so
that we'd have much more of His Help to always say/write that we're
"wonderfully hungry" in **all** ways including especially caring to
http://bit.ly/convince_it_forward (John 15:12 as shown by
http://bit.ly/RapidTestCOVID-19 ) with all glory (
http://bit.ly/Psalm117_ ) to GOD (aka HaShem, Elohim, Abba, DEO), in
the name (John 16:23) of LORD Jesus Christ of Nazareth. Amen.

Laus DEO !

Suggested further reading:
https://groups.google.com/g/sci.med.cardiology/c/5EWtT4CwCOg/m/QjNF57xRBAAJ

Shorter link:
http://bit.ly/StatCOVID-19Test

Be hungrier, which really is wonderfully healthier especially for
diabetics and other heart disease patients:

http://bit.ly/HeartDocAndrewToutsHunger (Luke 6:21a) with all glory to
GOD, Who causes us to hunger (Deuteronomy 8:3) when He blesses us
right now (Luke 6:21a) thereby removing the http://HeartMDPhD.com/VAT
from around the heart

...because we mindfully choose to openly care with our heart,

HeartDoc Andrew <><
--
Andrew B. Chung, MD/PhD
Cardiologist with an http://bit.ly/EternalMedicalLicense
2016 & upwards non-partisan candidate for U.S. President:
http://bit.ly/WonderfullyHungryPresident
and author of the 2PD-OMER Approach:
http://bit.ly/HeartDocAndrewCare
which is the only **healthy** cure for the U.S. healthcare crisis
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