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May 20, 2020 Wednesday 08:47:42 PM IST

Handwashing 6-10 times a day linked to lower infection risk

International Edu News

Moderate frequency handwashing six to ten times a day is linked to a lower risk of seasonal coronavirus infection, according to a new UCL study. The research, published in Wellcome Open Research and awaiting peer review, is the first empirical evidence that regular handwashing can reduce the personal risk of acquiring seasonal coronavirus infection. It draws on data from three successive winter cohorts (2006 to 2009) of the England-wide Flu Watch study.

For this study, 1,633 participants provided baseline estimates of hand hygiene behaviour and coronavirus infections were identified from nasal swabs. The majority of participants (almost 80%) were adults over sixteen years of age. To assess overall handwashing frequency participants were asked the start of each season to “Estimate how many times you washed your hands yesterday”.  The frequency of daily handwashing was subsequently categorised as low (≤5 times daily), moderate (6-10 times daily), or high (>10 times daily) guided by literature around influenza-like illness in Western community settings.

Moderate-frequency handwashing was associated with a significantly reduced overall risk of contracting coronavirus (36% reduction in the risk of infection compared to those who washed their hands 0-5 times per day). For higher intensity handwashing there was no significant dose-response effect. The analysis was adjusted for age and healthcare worker status due to their relationship both with hygiene practices and with the risk of contracting coronavirus infections.

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