When I first started my Master of Molecular Life Sciences at WUR, I worked on a group project with a partner I just met during the course. One day, he came to class with a red nose. He kept on sneezing in his hands and then used the keyboard, which we had to share, with his germ contaminated hands. I wanted to be polite and did not say anything, but a few days later, I regretted it deeply when I was lying in bed with terrible flu.
During the Coronavirus pandemic, we learned to stay at home when we experience the slightest symptoms of a cold. Even when we feel fine, we take better care of our hygiene and keep a distance to each other. This does not only prevent the Coronavirus from spreading but other diseases as well.
It is nice to know that the attention we pay on distancing and keeping our hands clean has an added bonus.
A German health insurance company reported that the number of people who called in sick in April and May 2020 was on a record low, compared to the same period in previous years. They link this to the increased efforts to contain the pandemic. It is nice to know that all the attention we pay on distancing and keeping our hands clean has an added bonus.
But even though safety is still a big topic at the university, people have become more careless these days. It is getting crowded again at the supermarket, and the shopping carts are not cleaned for us anymore. Personally, I don’t mind the measures; I even like it when it is not so hectic in public places. Why don’t we keep this up in the future, even after the pandemic, if it decreases the likelihood of being sick in the winter?
The pandemic has turned me into a kind of a germophobe. I don’t even want to get used to shaking hands again. Why don’t we make it a custom to politely nod to each other, as it is done in Japan? And let’s surely keep up the habit of washing our hands and sneezing in our elbow, not on our colleague’s keyboard.
Katrin Heidemeyer came to Wageningen in 2014 to do her Masters, and started her PhD at the Laboratory of Biochemistry thee years ago. She hails from Germany.