Covid-19: Google Honours Pioneer of Hand Washing

By Adedapo Adesanya

The most popular search engine, Google, has used its homepage platform in nearly every country around the world to emphasize the need for hand washing with a Doodle to honour Dr Ignaz Semmelweis, who is regarded as the father of infection control and a pioneer in hand washing.

The coronavirus outbreak, which started in December 2019 in China, has spread to over 182 countries and territories around the world with 246,762 cases, 10,062 deaths recorded and 88,488 recoveries. In Nigeria, there are currently 12 cases with none on record as at Friday morning.

Regarded as a preventive measure, hand washing has been offered as a way for people to protect themselves and the platform is using the image of the man who popularised the concept to create awareness.

In the mid 19th century, Dr Ignaz Semmelweis noticed that new mothers were frequently dying from unknown illnesses that began shortly after child birth.

He proposed the possibility that doctors and other medical staff were infecting these women with bacteria and other materials from their most recent patients and required all staff to wash their hands between patients.

After the proposition brought by him, the hospital where he was the chief resident in Vienna, Austria, recorded a lower rate of infection and would be adopted by others later on.

According to Google, “to celebrate the continuing impact of his findings, even as we deal with the COVID-19 outbreak, Ignaz Semmelweis is being honored with a video Google Doodle. In the Doodle, the good doctor shows a demonstration of how to wash your hands, including a 40-second timer.”

To watch, the user has to visit the Google homepage at and click on the picture of the doctor.

Google also recommends “Do the Five” which are: Hands, Wash them often; Elbow, Cough into it; Face, Don’t touch it; Feet, Stay more than three feet apart; Feel sick? Stay home.

Adedapo Adesanya is a journalist, polymath, and connoisseur of everything art. When he is not writing, he has his nose buried in one of the many books or articles he has bookmarked or simply listening to good music with a bottle of beer or wine. He supports the greatest club in the world, Manchester United F.C.

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