Europe starts to slowly ease the lockdown, as an Asian person who is serious with hygiene under normal circumstances and definitely more so now, finds it quite terrifying to interact with people in this continent.
Most people living in a developed country but rooted in some underdeveloped countries have been raised with strong hygiene practices: no outside shoes, jackets inside the house, showering every day, washing hands especially after touching something in public places, and most importantly, use enough water to wash their anus shortly after defecation!
With millions invested in the developing world on improving water and sanitation programs and interventions, the narrative has always been that brown and black bodies are the diseased, infected, unclean. This takes away the focus from the fact that westerners, in particular, have horrible hygiene practices. This isn’t just a personal observation, there are several references to this.
In this pandemic, while everyone has been quick to point out how filthy Chinese eating and hygiene habits are, no one talked about what it is about the overall health and hygiene of Italy that led to the outbreak. Just old people with pre-conditions do not hold ground anymore with so many young people dying. So, now that lockdowns are easing up and European people having this attitude that their hygiene practices are above global conversation.
It’s almost like, we will need to start building a hygiene trust with friends, colleagues, and acquaintances before interacting with them. How do you tell a friend, I am sorry but unless you show me your daily shower chart or how many times you wash your hands, we cannot ever stop socially distancing? How do you ask a date – are you the just toilet paper kind of guy or the water and toilet paper combo guy?
Yes, we all have to interact with one another to get microbes to build our own immune system but this pandemic has changed the entire game, hasn’t it? So maybe, the global health world needs to have a more honest conversation about everyone’s hygiene and not present them as a developing world problem.