Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Improved handwashing at airports may reduce spread of infectious diseases: Study

Boston: Improving the rates of handwashing by travellers passing through just 10 of the world''s leading airports could significantly reduce the spread of many infectious diseases, including the novel coronavirus, according to a study.
The greater the improvement in people''s handwashing habits at airports, the more dramatic the effect on slowing the disease, said researchers, including those from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) in the US.

The findings, which deal with infectious diseases in general including the flu, were published in late December, just before the recent coronavirus outbreak in Wuhan, China.

However, the study, published in the journal Risk Analysis, could apply to any such disease, and are relevant to the current outbreak, the researchers noted.

People can be surprisingly casual about washing hands even in crowded locations like airports, they said.

Travellers from different parts of the world are touching surfaces such as chair armrests, check-in kiosks, security checkpoint trays, and restroom doorknobs and faucets, the researchers said.

Based on data from previous research by groups, including the American Society for Microbiology, the team estimated that on average, only about 20 per cent of people in airports have clean hands -- meaning they have been washed with soap and water, for at least 15 seconds, within the last hour or so.
10/02/20 PTI/Outlook
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