Conditions of hand-washing facilities in Ghana particularly Veronica Buckets could be another mode of transmission of the novel coronavirus disease in the country.
The Department of Biotechnology of the Faculty of Agriculture at the University for Development Studies, Nyankpala campus, has established through scientific investigations the prevalence of Escherichia coli (E. coli) and Staphylococcus aureus on some taps of the Veronica Buckets in the Tamale metropolis in the Northern Region.
Senior Lecturer of the Department of Biotechnology of the Faculty of Agriculture, Dr Courage Kosi Setsoafia Saba said 124 samples of Veronica Buckets were taken in the metropolis from banks, restaurants, supermarkets, offices and shops and examined.
“We also swabbed the hands of 60 different clients using the Veronica Bucket before and after using the tap to ascertain the cleanliness of those hands after washing,” he pointed out.
According to Dr Saba, 25 pieces representing 20% and 64 pieces representing 50% out of the 124 veronica buckets were contaminated with E. coli and Staphylococcus aureus respectively.
This reveals the unhygienic conditions of the hand washing facilities.
Consequently, the results mean taps of these Veronica Buckets can actually spread the SARS-CoV-2 that causes COVID-19 when a contaminated person’s hand shares the same tap with non-contaminated individuals.
The research finding also shows that 6 in 12 individuals were still infected with E. coli and Staphylococcus respectively after washing their hands.
Dr Saba explained this outcome either means people are not washing their hands very well or their hands are re-contaminated by the taps after washing their hands since they use their washed hands to close the tap after usage.
The primary action of hand washing is the mechanical removal of viable transient and resident microorganisms, whereas the primary action of antimicrobial soap includes both mechanical removal and killing or inhibition of both transient and resident flora.
Dr Saba who doubles as the UDS Deputy Director of International Relations said the presence of E. coli indicates contamination with faeces, stating it is naturally found in the faeces of both humans and animals.
He, however, noted this doesn’t cause diseases in healthy people when consumed but those whose immune systems are already weak such as the sick, old age, pregnant women and children.
“Its presence is an indication that other pathogenic organisms be it bacteria, viruses, or parasites may be present.
“Its presence also indicates that there is poor hygiene,” Dr Saba stated.
The UDS Senior Lecturer outlined some measures which include the use of tissue papers to always open and close the taps, the use of hands-free hand washing systems and frequently washing of the hand containers and changing clean water to curb the spread of the global pandemic disease in the country.