Winnipeg Free Press - PRINT EDITION

Ex-prof urges hand sanitizer for cashiers

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FIRST it was a stop sign, but now a former University of Manitoba assistant professor wants to stop the spread of H1N1.

Rod Yellon, a political studies professor for 37 years before retiring, has asked Sobeys, Safeway and Superstore to give all cashiers hand sanitizer bottles at cash registers.

Yellon, who made headlines in 2002 -- and a mention by Jay Leno on The Tonight Show -- for unsuccessfully challenging the constitutionality of the word "Stop" on the traffic sign, said it would be one way to prevent the virus from spreading.

"Cashiers at checkout stands touch every item that is purchased," Yellon said.

"A cashier with a virus therefore has the potential to infect every customer he or she checks out... an infected cashier could, in the course of a single eight-hour shift, unintentionally transmit the virus to 100 or more customers."

Yellon said to prevent this, the grocery store chains should give the cashiers hand sanitizer and teach them to use it after they sneeze or cough.

He said he hasn't received any response from the grocery chains.

Dr. Sande Harlos, a provincial medical officer of health, said she wouldn't recommend exactly what type of action businesses should take against H1N1, but she said employers should provide a way for employees to wash their hands.

Harlos said there are other measures employees can take.

"We need to remind everybody they should stay home when they're sick," she said.

"We do need to remember to cough or sneeze into a tissue or an elbow or sleeve. And if you sneeze into a hand, you should have access to washing your hand."

Harlos said the virus doesn't survive on skin that long, but it can last up to seven hours on other surfaces.

kevin.rollason@freepress.mb.ca

 

Republished from the Winnipeg Free Press print edition September 16, 2009 A5

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