Andile Tshuma, Chronicle Correspondent
HEALTH experts have said in the absence of sanitisers and soap, people can use other readily available products as well as traditional methods to disinfect in the face of the Covid-19 outbreak.
People have been sharing handy hints and home remedies on various substances that can be used to disinfect hands and surfaces in the absence of conventional products.
Hand sanitisers in the country have been flying off the shelves at shops and pharmacies, while some profiteering businesses have hiked the prices of the vital products as well as toiletries including wet wipes, handwash and soaps.
So far, seven positive cases of Covid-19 have been recorded in the country and Government has come up with a raft of measures to prevent the virus from spreading, including a 21-day national lockdown that started yesterday.
People are also encouraged to wash their hands and practice social distancing.
On social media platforms, Zimbabweans have been sharing information about substances such as bicarbonate of soda, ash, charcoal, lemons, tree leaves, and urine, among others that can be used to wash hands and protect them from Covid-19.
Health experts confirmed that some of the substances are handy while dismissing others.
There have also been concerns that some people, especially in rural areas, cannot afford hand sanitiser or in some cases washing soap.
Bulawayo City Council deputy director of the Health Services Department Mr Charles Malaba said ash could be used to wash hands as it has chemical components that are known to kill germs and bacteria.
“We would strongly advise people to use antibacterial soap and hand wash or hand sanitisers. However, knowing that we all do not afford the same things and some people are in more remote parts of the country, I therefore can vouch for ash from burnt wood. It contains the chemical formaldehyde and other components which help to get rid of germs and bacteria. Ash and running water can therefore be used to wash hands,” he said.
“I would strongly advise against use of urine as it is excrement and in itself contains bacteria and other chemical and acids that are not necessarily good. While it is often shared among people that urine has medicinal properties, we must not confuse with what was available to people back in the day when it was pure and without as much chemicals. Right now, people are using all sorts of medication and it means that the output may be heavily contaminated.”
Mpilo Central Hospital clinical director Dr Solwayo Ngwenya also advised the public that in the absence of soap and other conventional sanitisers and disinfectants, some natural products could be used.
“People can use ash; they can also use sand and a lot of water repeatedly to wash hands. There are a lot of things that can be used if soap is not available, some can use sand and tree leaves that are rubbed into the palms and then running water, some can also use bicarbonate of soda and lemon, as lemon is a natural disinfectant, that’s why you will find these even in a number of cleaning products. But the secret is just to wash hands regularly. Let us use what is available and do the most of it.
“I advise members of the public to continue washing hands and practicing the highest standards of hygiene to stay safe. I discourage the use of urine because it is human excrement and it is unsafe; it contains a lot of things that are not good and there are a lot of other things to use,” said Dr Ngwenya. – @andile_tshuma.