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February 25, 2020

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Washing hands can reduce the spread of coronavirus at airports, according to a study

The spread of the coronavirus can be reduced by 37% by improving hand hygiene at airports, according to a new study by the Society for Risk Analysis.

coronavirusAs 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 24-69%, according to the researchers.

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%.

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.

The airports include:

  • London Heathrow;
  • Los Angeles International;
  • John F. Kennedy;
  • Charles de Gaulle;
  • Dubai International;
  • Frankfurt;
  • Hong Kong International;
  • Beijing Capital;
  • San Francisco and
  • 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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