To prevent viral infections, doctors suggest practicing good hand hygiene. In light of the recent coronavirus outbreak, public health guidelines continue to emphasize this. Is hand washing really that helpful in the context of an epidemic? New research suggests that it is.
When it comes to preventing viral infections — especially those that spread via droplets from coughs and sneezes — washing the hands is always the first-line measure.
Now, in the midst of the recent coronavirus outbreak, correctly washing the hands remains public health officials’ top advice when it comes to controlling infection rates.
In their guidelines on how to prevent infection with the novel coronavirus, the World Health Organization (WHO) state that people should “[w]ash [their] hands frequently with soap and water.”
Still, people continue to express doubt that something as simple as basic personal hygiene could have any effect in the context of an epidemic.
New research from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Cambridge aims to put those doubts to rest by showing just how important washing the hands can be in slowing down the spread of infectious disease.
The study, which now appears in the journal Risk Analysis, used epidemiological modeling and data-based simulations to determine if and how better personal hygiene might affect the rate of disease transmission.