Do you wash your hands, well most people really suck at washing their hands. In fact, research shows that only about 70% of people wash their hands after going to the toilet. With the recent Wuhan Coronavirus causing chaos to health and economic systems around the world simply washing hands could be a cost-effective way of making everyone safer.
People around the world die every day from infectious diseases that could be dramatically mitigated if only people bothered to practise good hand hygiene.
“70% of the people who go to the toilet wash their hands afterwards,” says physicist and data scientist Christos Nicolaides from the University of Cyprus and MIT.
New research from Nicolaides suggests – particularly with regard to the way that contagion can rapidly spread throughout the world due to air travel, which has the power to turn epidemics into pandemics, and frighteningly quickly.
Previous research has demonstrated that as few as 20% of people in airports have clean hands at any given moment, meaning they’ve washed their hands with soap and water, for at least 15 seconds, within the last hour. That’s a pretty huge problem, given the vast number of things people touch with their hands in airport environments, including trays, railings, touch panels, doors, and much more.
Using epidemiological modelling the researchers calculated that increasing the number of people with clean hands in airports would significantly lower the transmission of infections, lowering the likelihood of epidemics turning into pandemics.
“Our simulation results suggest that if we were able to increase the level of hand cleanliness at all airports in the world from 20 percent to 30 percent … a potentially infectious disease would have a worldwide impact that is about 24 percent smaller,” the authors write in their study.
“Increasing the level of hand cleanliness to 60 percent at all airports in the world would have a reduction of 69 percent in the impact of a potential disease spreading.”