The secret to slowing a global outbreak… airport restrooms?


AUSTIN (KXAN) – A new report is revealing what may be the key to preventing an epidemic: washing your hands at the airport. In the report, researchers found that if 60% of travelers properly wash their hands, the spread of global diseases would be slowed by 70%.

The researchers also found that if ten of the world’s busiest airports had just 60% of their visitors wash their hands better, the spread of global diseases would be slowed by nearly 40%. This would be mean that viruses like the Wuhan Coronavirus would take months to reach the United States instead of weeks.

The research was conducted before the coronavirus outbreak this past December. Researchers used simulations to find their data, based on decades of research into handwashing patterns around the world. Based on previous research conducted by American Society of Microbiology, the team estimated that only 20% of people in airports have clean hands.

Preventing illness at ABIA

More than 17 million people visited Austin Bergstrom International Airport in 2019. They brought with them luggage, screaming children, and plenty of germs. Flying is one of the easiest ways to get sick. Germs can be on everything from your tray table to the in-flight magazine.

In order to combat the spread of germs, ABIA focuses on giving passengers hands-free options for everything. According to Bryce Dubree, public information officer for ABIA, disinfectant dispensers can be found everywhere. The newest wing of the terminal even includes bathrooms with all-in-one sinks. “From the water, to the soap dispensers to the air dryers themselves, it’s all one solid unit that allows travelers to go through with a total hands free experience,” Mr. Dubree said.

Properly washing your hands

Whether you’re taking a flight or going to work, anytime you are around groups of people you should wash your hands. In order to kill the bugs crawling on your skin, you need to use both soap and water and scrub for at least fifteen seconds.

Only 20% of people take the proper steps to wash their hands after using the bathroom, according to the new report.

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