Before the pandemic changed our lives, how many of us really ever thought about hand sanitizer? Not many unless you worked in a medical environment. Over the last two years, it has become one of the must-have items in our daily lives, at times being the reason for some crazy panic buying! In the US alone the hand sanitizer market was worth over 4.3 billion USD by the end of 2020 and is forecasted to grow a further 3.6% over the next 5 years.
Now you won’t say this too loudly, but there are signs on the horizon that the world might be returning to normal. Or at least a version of whatever normal is or was to us all. The numbers of worldwide infections have decreased over the last few weeks, a pattern mirrored in the US and much of Europe. The number of individuals vaccinated is ever-increasing and many countries are starting to lift all signs of restrictions. So, does this all mean we no longer need this once essential product?
Back to normal?
Many people work from home today. For some this is how they have always worked, for others, it became necessary during the pandemic. Working from home has its positives, but it does have its downside. It can be quite a lonely way of working. Interacting with the same four walls every single day and only speaking to people via a computer screen or phone.
But as restrictions are being lifted there are murmurings that some countries are now looking to live with the virus. Many are starting to venture into the office more and more, once again.
A day out
Working from home, spending time out in the world is often a treat. During the pandemic, shopping was only a necessity, and coffee and dinner with friends was a luxury. For many, shopping was done online for delivery to eliminate any unnecessary contact with others who may or may not be ill. Not everyone adheres to the recommendations of the CDC, and although hand sanitizer was available at every store, not all took advantage of it. Even being around someone with a cough would often send people into a panic!
Saturday hits and you have plans with friends or family. Coffee out, a trip to the shops, and then an afternoon of chores while the weekend’s sport is on in the background. Then if all goes well, you plan to meet some friends for dinner in the evening.
But when you wake up, you just don’t feel yourself. You can’t quite put your finger on it, but something is not quite right. Trying not to dwell on it, you start your weekend with all the excitement that it brings knowing the working week is behind you. Lunchtime arrives, and wait. That can’t be, can it? Did you just cough?
The coughing gets worse over the next couple of hours, so you decided to take a Covid test. Because that is what we have become programmed to do. You find the at-home kit you have and follow the instructions to the letter. You need to be sure after all! You get ready to wait the fifteen minutes out staring at this test, but after just three minutes your heart starts to sink. Surely not. It can’t be, can it? Those two red lines appear. Oh no you have Coronavirus!
Later that evening the cough becomes more prominent, your joints begin to ache, your nose starts to run, and you become congested. The hot and cold feelings come and go every few minutes and you feel awful.
But you thought the pandemic was coming to an end? You are double vaccinated and for so long during this pandemic, you were so careful when you were out. But habits have slipped. you have become too relaxed! Maybe Coronavirus will never go away and we are all going to have to live with it. Along with Flu, the common cold, and many other little bugs that try so hard to bring us down!
It could have all been prevented. Simple really. Using hand sanitizer. You don’t even know why you stopped using it. You have been so careful throughout the pandemic. Maybe it’s “Covid fatigue” or you just started to believe (or wanted to believe) it was all going away. Let’s be fair, it’s been two years and we are all sick of it! (Yes, that was a joke!)
Your journey out into the world brings so many opportunities to catch the infection. The hundred passengers on the train or bus, and the ones who sat in your seat before you did. The coffee barista who handled your coffee. The hundreds of people you interacted with throughout the day. Endless opportunities.
We can never control what everyone else is doing, but we can control what we do. And while we all learn to live with Coronavirus and all the other bugs out there, we can take one simple precaution that would have saved you from a rough week in bed. Regularly sanitizing our hands. A good thirty seconds would have saved your whole week. Seems silly now, when you look back.
Learn from your lesson
Don’t let those exciting times on the horizon be stopped by not continuing to do the little things like regularly washing your hands with soap or water, or using hand sanitizer when you are out and about. That quick 30-second habit might just allow you to enjoy that holiday in the sun, the concert that has been postponed three times, or that meal out you have been looking forward to for months with your friends.