An Evaluation of the Hand Hygiene Behaviour and Compliance of the General Public When Using Public Restrooms in Northern Ireland (NI) during the Initial Weeks of the Novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) Pandemic.

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Abstract

Background: The ongoing novel coronavirus (COVID-19) global pandemic has resulted in significant levels of morbidity and mortality worldwide, particularly among the elderly and immuno-suppressed groups. Although adequate hand hygiene (HH) behaviour and compliance is widely accepted as being the most effective self-protective measure in preventing the spread of diseases like COVID-19, previous research suggests that normal hand hygiene compliance is poor, but generally improves during a disease pandemic. This research aimed to evaluate the hand hygiene behaviour and compliance of the general public in the initial weeks of the COVID-19 pandemic in Northern Ireland (NI). Methods: This cross-sectional study involved the use of infrared-imaging cameras to observe the hand hygiene behaviour and compliance of the general public when using one set of male and female public restrooms. Results: The findings of this study indicated that the level of hand hygiene compliance of the general public was poor in the initial weeks, with 82.93% overall not washing their hands adequately. Conclusions: Inadequate HH behaviour and compliance may have added significantly to the rapid rate of spread of COVID-19 in the initial weeks of the pandemic in NI. Current public health campaigns do not appear, based on this study, to have the desired impact and may need to be reviewed or re-enforced in order to achieve the levels of hand hygiene compliance required to slow the spread of COVID-19 and other communicable diseases in the future.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6385
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalInternational Journal of Environmental Research and Public Health
Volume18
Issue number12
Early online date12 Jun 2021
DOIs
Publication statusE-pub ahead of print - 12 Jun 2021

Keywords

  • COVID-19
  • Hand hygiene
  • Behaviour
  • Observational Research
  • General population

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