Better hand hygiene at top 10 airports will reduce spread of coronavirus

17th of February 2020
Better hand hygiene at top 10 airports will reduce spread of coronavirus

The spread of the coronavirus can be reduced by 37 per cent by improving hand hygiene at airports. That's according to a new study by the Society for Risk Analysis.

As coronavirus spreads around the world through infected air travellers, authorities are attempting to contain the outbreak and avoid a pandemic. The study reveals the impact of implementing disease mitigation strategies at airports across the world.

Increasing traveller engagement with proper hand hygiene at all airports has the potential to reduce the risk of a potential pandemic by 24 per cent to 69 per cent - the researchers say.

They also identified 10 critical airports central to the global network, and if hand washing mitigation strategies are implemented in just those locations, they say the pandemic risk can drop by up to 37 per cent.

According to the study, "Hand hygiene mitigation strategies against global disease spreading through the air transportation network," if increased hand washing practices were instituted in 10 key airports there would be a significant impact on decreasing the spread of viruses. Airports are not just locations that see large volumes of passengers, they also connect travellers with destinations in all parts of the world.

A cost-effective measure would be to adopt good hygiene practices at the top 10 influential airports. These include: London Heathrow; Los Angeles International; John F. Kennedy; Charles de Gaulle; Dubai International; Frankfurt; Hong Kong International; Beijing Capital; San Francisco; Amsterdam Schiphol.

Christos Nicolaides, lead author, University of Cyprus and Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) said: "Airports and aeroplanes are highly infectious because they are close, confined areas with large, mobile populations. Viruses are spread through bodily fluids, so keeping hands clean at major transport hubs is central to control spread."

Airports also contain numerous highly contaminated surfaces that are frequently touched by travellers, including self-service check-in screens, gate bench armrests, water fountain buttons, door handles, seats and tray tables.




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