Researchers have reported that by focusing on improving the handwashing rates at 10 key airports around the world based on a diseases outbreak location can greatly reduce the chances of the disease spreading. The researchers estimate that the majority of people at airports have unclean hands that contaminate everything they touch
The researchers have taken into account common infectious diseases like the flu. Their findings were published last December just before the coronavirus outbreak in China became global news. According to the researchers, the study is based on epidemiological modelling and data-based simulations.
The research findings were published in the journal Risk Analysis. The authors of the study include Professor Christos Nicolaides PhD ’14 of the University of Cyprus, who is also a fellow at the MIT Sloan School of Management; Professor Ruben Juanes of MIT’s Department of Civil and Environmental Engineering; and three others.
The study states that people are generally very lax about washing hands, even in airports. Based on assembled data researchers believe that only about 20 per cent of people in the airport have clear hands and the remaining 80 per cent are actually contaminating everything they touch.
Professor Nicolaides has stated that the handwashing rates at all of the world's airport have tripled so that 60 per cent of travellers have clean hands then the impact will be greatest. The researchers arrived at these estimates using detailed epidemiological simulations that involved data on worldwide flights including duration, distance, and interconnections. They also took into accounts wait times at airports.
The researchers in their study have identified 120 airports that are most influential when it comes to spreading diseases. In their study they have mentioned the airports of Tokyo and Honolulu, these two airports the researchers have claimed to have a lot of influence because of their location and size.
The research indicates that identifying 10 closest airports near the outbreak centre and focusing on handwashing education at those 10 is one of the most effective ways of limiting the disease spread. Another could be the addition of handwashing stations outside of the washrooms where surfaces are highly contaminated.