New Delhi, February 13, 2020: With the outbreak of deadly Coronavirus in China and other parts of the world, a recent study has suggested that implementing disease mitigation strategies like proper hand hygiene at airports across the globe can be effective in preventing the infection.
A study published in the journal - Risk Analysis - has analysed the impact of implementing disease mitigation strategies at airports in different parts of the world. The study has found out that increasing traveler engagement with proper hand-hygiene at all airports has the potential to reduce the risk of a potential pandemic by 24-69 percent.
The researchers also identified ten critical airports, central to the global air-transportation network, and if hand-washing mitigation strategies are implemented in just these ten locations, the pandemic risk can drop by up to 37 percent.
"Hand-hygiene mitigation strategies against global disease spreading through the air transportation network," read an excerpt from the study.
The study also suggests that if increased hand-washing practices were instituted in ten key airports there would be a significant impact on decreasing the spread of viruses.
These ten airports are not just locations that see large volumes of passengers, they also connect travelers with destinations in all parts of the world. The airports include, London Heathrow, Los Angeles International, John F. Kennedy, Charles de Gaulle, Dubai International, Frankfurt, Hong Kong International, Beijing Capital, San Francisco, and Amsterdam Schiphol.
"Airports, and airplanes, are highly infectious because they are close, confined areas with large, mobile populations," said the lead researcher Christos Nicolaides.
"Viruses are spread through bodily fluids, so keeping hands clean at major transport hubs is central to control spread," he added.
Airports also contain numerous highly contaminated surfaces that are frequently touched by travelers, including self-service check-in screens, gate bench armrests, water fountain buttons, door handles, seats and tray tables.
In addition to increasing the frequency at which public areas are cleaned and sanitized, using proper coughing etiquette, wearing face masks and proper hand hygiene practices are the most common actions that can be adopted by air travelers.
Currently, analyses show that, at most, one in five people have clean hands at any given moment. If hand cleanliness at all airports increased from 20 percent to 30 percent, by increasing the capacity and/or awareness of hand-washing, the impact of a potential infectious disease would have a global impact that is 24 percent smaller.
A cost-effective measure would be to adopt these practices at the top 10 influential airports, reducing the impact of the disease spreading to just 37 percent.