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Handwashing research
highlights countries that could be at more risk

Countries where people do not have a habit of washing their hands automatically
tend to have a much higher exposure to coronavirus, a new study reveals.

University of Birmingham researchers have discovered that at least
50% of people do not have a habit of automatic handwashing after using the
toilet in China (77%), Japan (70%), South Korea (61%) and the Netherlands

These countries are followed by Thailand and Kenya, where 48% do
not have this habit, and Italy with 43%.

In contrast, UK and US frequencies are 25% and 23%,
correspondingly. The best handwashing culture is observed in Saudi Arabia,
where only 3% of people do not wash their hands habitually.

Ganna Pogrebna
, from Birmingham Business
School and Dr. Alex Kharlamov, from Birmingham Law School, published their
findings in Regulation & Governance.

Professor Pogrebna commented:
“Countries where people do not have a
habit of washing their hands automatically
tend to have a much higher exposure to COVID-19. In the absence of a cure or
vaccine, the current outbreak obliges humanity to find ways of reducing the
potential risk of infection.

handwashing with soap for at least 20 seconds is widely advised as a preventive
measure against COVID-19. It is possible to quickly influence individual
hygiene behaviour in the short term, but changing handwashing culture in a
particular country – or globally – is a much more difficult task.”

In 2015, the BVA France Sarl , Worldwide Independent Network of
Market Research and GALLUP International published data on human handwashing
habits from 63 countries around the globe by asking people to agree or disagree
with the following statement “Washing your hands with soap after using a
toilet is something you do automatically

Professor Pogrebna and Dr. Kharlamov used the dataset of 64,002
respondents as a proxy of handwashing culture to explore the impact of this
culture on the COVID-19 outbreak magnitude.

Dr. Alex Kharlamov commented: “Many
factors may have contributed to the spread of COVID-19 around the globe, but
handwashing culture alone appears to be an important factor in explaining why
some counties have been hit harder by the outbreak.

“Time will tell
whether the challenges posed by COVID-19 will help to make handwashing culture
around the globe more unified. However, the data

– adjusted for cultural differences and differences
in economic development between countries – demonstrated a very strong
correlation between lack of handwashing culture and exposure to the virus.”

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