French lack of hygiene puts public at risk of Covid-19

Hand washing is recommended as a major way to prevent the spread of viruses

French people could be at high risk of viral infections “in the context of coronavirus (Covid-19)” due to a lack of good hygiene practices, a new poll has suggested.

The study found that a quarter of French people do not wash their hands after going to the toilet, and less than half (49%) wash their hands before eating.

It showed that around 25% of men do not shower everyday, versus 20% of women. Among men aged over 65, more than half say they do not wash everyday. Of men, 5% said they only wash once a week, compared to 4% of women.

François Kraus, analyst at Ifop, told public news hub FranceInfo: “In the context of coronavirus, the application of basic hygiene rules, such as washing hands, is no longer a duty just to yourself, but also towards others.

“In general, we are seeing a gap in the French population’s cleanliness standards. The French population is probably more at risk of viral, seasonal infections. Improving our bodily hygiene is a real public health issue.”

Mr Kraus added: “[France] was classed 50th out of 63 countries when it comes to hygiene, in a study published in 2015. This puts our country at higher risk than others of seasonal viral infections. One of the major tasks of the study was into the lack of following [hygiene] rules suggested by the authorities, such as, for example, washing hands.”

The poll was conducted via online survey by agency Ifop, for cleaning health company, Diogène-France.fr, between January 31 and February 3, of a sample size of 2,005 people aged 18 and over, representative of the French mainland population.

Health professionals have recommended hand washing as one of the key ways to stop the spread of viruses such as coronavirus Covid-19, and ‘flu. Masks that cover the face are seen as effective only when worn by someone who is already ill.

To reduce the spread of viruses, it is also important to avoid other ill people; cough into your elbow crease (rather than your hand) when you cough; avoid touching your face; and clean surfaces that you touch regularly, such as door handles, computer keyboards, and light switches; and isolate yourself if you are ill.

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