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Hand Hygiene Practices and the Risk of Human Coronavirus Infections in a UK Community Cohort [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]

Beale, S; Johnson, AM; Zambon, M; Hayward, AC; Fragaszy, EB; (2020) Hand Hygiene Practices and the Risk of Human Coronavirus Infections in a UK Community Cohort [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]. Wellcome Open Research , 5 , Article 98. 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15796.1. Green open access

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Abstract

Background: Hand hygiene may mitigate the spread of COVID-19 in community settings; however, empirical evidence is limited. Given reports of similar transmission mechanisms for COVID-19 and seasonal coronaviruses, we investigated whether hand hygiene impacted the risk of acquiring seasonal coronavirus infections. / Methods: Data were drawn from three successive winter cohorts (2006-2009) of the England-wide Flu Watch study. Participants (n=1633) provided baseline estimates of hand hygiene behaviour. Coronavirus infections were identified from nasal swabs using RT-PCR. Poisson mixed models estimated the effect of hand hygiene on personal risk of coronavirus illness, both unadjusted and adjusted for confounding by age and healthcare worker status. / Results: Moderate-frequency handwashing (6-10 times per day) predicted a lower personal risk of coronavirus infection (adjusted incidence rate ratio (aIRR) =0.64, p=0.04). There was no evidence for a dose-response effect of handwashing, with results for higher levels of hand hygiene (>10 times per day) not significant (aIRR =0.83, p=0.42). / Conclusions: This is the first empirical evidence that regular handwashing can reduce personal risk of acquiring seasonal coronavirus infection. These findings support clear public health messaging around the protective effects of hand washing in the context of the current COVID-19 pandemic.

Type: Article
Title: Hand Hygiene Practices and the Risk of Human Coronavirus Infections in a UK Community Cohort [version 1; peer review: awaiting peer review]
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
DOI: 10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15796.1
Publisher version: https://doi.org/10.12688/wellcomeopenres.15796.1
Language: English
Additional information: Copyright © 2020 Beale S et al. This is an open access article distributed under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/), which permits unrestricted use, distribution, and reproduction in any medium, provided the original work is properly cited.
Keywords: coronavirus, hand washing, respiratory hygiene, pandemic, COVID-19, respiratory infection
UCL classification: UCL
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Brain Sciences > UCL Queen Square Institute of Neurology > Neurodegenerative Diseases
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute for Global Health > Infection and Population Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Epidemiology and Health > Epidemiology and Public Health
UCL > Provost and Vice Provost Offices > School of Life and Medical Sciences > Faculty of Population Health Sciences > Institute of Health Informatics
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10098365
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