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Saturday 24th August 2019

Britons 'most unhygienic'

5th October 2012

A study has found British people are unhygienic and less likely to take steps to prevent the spread of germs during a swine flu pandemic.

swine flu

A Harvard University study suggested people in the UK were half as likely as other nations to cover their hands and mouth when coughing or sneezing during the swine flu outbreak.

They quizzed 900 randomly chosen adults in Argentina, Japan, Mexico, UK, and USA and found that few people in Britain changed their behaviour to reduce the spread of the H1N1 swine flu virus.

Just over half washed their hands more frequently or used hand sanitiser during the 2009 pandemic, compared with 89% in Argentina. While 25% coughed or sneezed into their elbows more often, as recommended during the outbreak, that compared to 84% in Argentina.

Only a third of Britons disinfected their home or workplace more often while almost three quarters of people in Argentina or Mexico took such measures, according to findings published in Lancet Infectious Diseases.

Fewer people in the UK wore masks during the pandemic.

Dr Gillian Steel Fisher of the Harvard School of Public Health in Boston, America, said: “The wide variations between countries in our study shows that in the event of another serious outbreak of infectious disease, public perceptions have to be taken into account to best tailor and communicate policy approaches that need public support in each country.”

The Department of Health said it encouraged better respiratory and hand hygiene during the swine flu outbreak and maintained most Britons were aware of the benefits.


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