‘More fun than Happy Birthday’: Lea Salonga’s go-to song for handwashing to avoid COVID-19


Health officials have been reminding the public that handwashing is one of the best and basic ways they can protect themselves against the spread of the coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19).

People are recommended to scrub hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds, which is about as long as singing Happy Birthday twice, according to the World Health Organization (WHO).

For the Broadway icon and The Voice Philippines coach, there’s a “more fun song” for the times than Happy Birthday.

Lea’s go-to song for the 20-second handwashing routine to avoid the coronavirus is the ’80s pop hit Never Gonna Give You Up by Rick Astley.

“Not gonna lie, I don’t think I’ve washed my hands this often, ever. And yes, it takes one chorus of Never Gonna Give You Up plus one ‘never gonna give, never gonna give, give you up’ to last around 20 seconds. Far more fun than Happy Birthday,” she wrote in a Facebook post.

Lea also asked her followers on Twitter for their own song recommendations to wash hands to.

Some suggested ’90s song verses from Britney Spears’ Hit Me Baby One More Time to Macarena, or choruses from musicals like Cats, Les Miz and Phantom of the Opera, etc. — all guaranteed to last at least 20 seconds.

Whatever song you choose to sing to or even dance to, if you want — it could be Sarah Geronimo’s Tala — while washing hands, make sure to do it properly and frequently.

The Department of Health (DOH) Philippines has been issuing advisories that stress the importance of hand hygiene.

“Wash (your) hands” is the very first tip on its first-ever TikTok video as DOH brings its battle against COVID-19 to the popular video-sharing app.

The rest of the safety tips are: Maintain one-meter distance between yourself and anyone who is coughing or sneezing. Do not touch your face because hands can pick up and transfer the virus through your eyes, nose or mouth. Lastly, follow cough etiquette, meaning, when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with your bent elbow or tissue, with the used tissue to be thrown away immediately.

On Saturday, the DOH confirmed the first local transmission and sixth case of COVID-2019 in the country, raising the alert system to code red sub-level 1 — a “preemptive measure” to prepare the government, public and health care providers for a possible increase in suspected and confirmed cases, Health Sec. Francisco Duque III said in a press statement.

The DOH cautioned anew the public to practice personal protective measures, as well as to avoid unnecessary travel and mass gatherings.

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