Flu pandemic: Handwashing

Handwashing is of crucial importance when it comes to hygiene. Most infectious diseases are transmitted via the hands. Washing your hands regularly is a key preventive measure in the event of a pandemic. It’s also better to avoid shaking hands. 

Regelmässiges und gründliches Händewaschen mit Wasser und Seife

What’s the right way to wash your hands?

It’s very important to use the right method when you wash your hands. Soap alone isn’t enough to render germs harmless. To do that you have to get the combination of soaping, rubbing, rinsing and drying right.

  • Wet your hands under running water.
  • Apply soap – if possible liquid soap.
  • Rub your hands together until you get a lather. Don’t forget to rub the backs of your hands, between your fingers, under your fingernails and your wrists.
  • Rinse your hands thoroughly with running water.
  • Dry your hands with a clean towel, if possible a disposable paper towel or a cloth roller towel.

When should you wash your hands?

As often as possible, especially:

  • before preparing food or sitting down to eat
  • before a meal
  • before feeding children
  • after blowing your nose, coughing or sneezing
  • every time you come home
  • after using public transport
  • after visiting someone who is ill or after close contact with materials, equipment or personal items used by people who are ill
  • before putting in or removing contact lenses
  • after taking off your mask
  • after going to the toilet
  • after changing nappies or accompanying a child to the toilet
  • after handling refuse
  • if your hands are dirty

How can you optimise the way you wash your hands?

Here are a few basic rules to make handwashing even more effective:

  • Use liquid soap if possible.
  • Take care of your skin: damaged, chapped hands or skin can be a hotbed of germs. Use cream to moisturise your skin if necessary. Also cut your fingernails short and regularly use a nailbrush to stop dirt from collecting under your nails.


Swiss Influenza Pandemic Plan PDF

Swiss Influenza Pandemic Plan 2018

Strategies and measures to prepare for an influenza pandemic in Switzerland

Further relevant documents are available in German and French.

Last modification 22.04.2020

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Federal Office of Public Health FOPH
Prevention and Healthcare Provision Directorate
Communicable Diseases Division
Schwarzenburgstrasse 157
3003 Bern
Tel. +41 58 463 87 06

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