As coronavirus continues to spread and misinformation continues to generate talk online, health experts have urged people to strictly adhere to recommended hygiene practices such as simply washing your hands regularly and covering your mouth when you cough or sneeze with a tissue.
However new research has revealed that the hygiene habits of many Aussies may not be as good as you’d expect, with new findings showing that one in three Aussies aged 25 and under do not wash their hands with soap and water after going to the toilet.
The shocking study also found that more than half (51 per cent) of those in Generation Z (classed as those born between 1995 and 2012) do not wash their hands before touching or preparing food.
The survey, which was carried out by the Food Safety Information Council, revealed that it is older generations who have the best general hygiene of any age group, with 86 per cent of Australians over 50 washing their hands after visiting the little boys’ or ladies’ room, while two thirds do so before touching food.
Cathy Moir, Council Chair, said that correct hand washing is an important public health issue that can reduce the risk of food poisoning as well as preventing the spread of viral diseases such as colds, flu, gastro caused by Norovirus and the COVID19 coronavirus infection.
“Our recent study showed that young people had the poorest understanding of correct handwashing,” she said. “Only 69% of young people under 25 said they always washed their hands after going to the toilet and only 49% said they always washed their hands before handling food. This is a particular worry as students often also have a part time job as food handlers.
“To reduce your risk of spreading bacteria and viruses around, always wash and dry your hands before handling, preparing and eating food. Wash hands particularly after touching raw meats and poultry, fish, shellfish, shell eggs or unwashed potatoes etc. Always wash your hands after using the toilet, blowing your nose or touching any infected wounds or sores.”
Moir added: “To wash your hands correctly, wet your hands and rub them together well to build up a good lather with soap for at least 20 seconds, you can turn off the tap while doing this to save water. Don’t forget to wash between your fingers and under your nails and rinse well under running water.
“Then dry your hands thoroughly on a clean towel for at least 20 seconds. If no running water is available use alcohol gels or wipes, rubbing them all over your hands and allow your hands to air dry. Alcohol gel should not replace the need to wash soiled hands when soap and water is available.”
Last week the World Health Organisation (WHO) also debunked 10 of the biggest myths relating to the global health emergency, from spraying yourself with chlorine to kill the virus or eating certain foods in a bid to increase your immunity.
The WHO shared their responses on social media, advising users not to spray themselves with potentially harmful chemicals, as well as recommending against the suggestions that breathing in smoke from fireworks, or coating yourself in sesame oil, provide protection from the virus.