Dutch show ‘worrying’ disregard for corona hygiene rules: survey

Washing your hands is key to controlling the virus. Photo: Depositphotos.com
Washing your hands is key to controlling the virus. Photo: Depositphotos.com

People in the Netherlands are largely ignorant when it comes to coronavirus hygiene rules or flout them en masse, a survey among 15,000 people by the Telegraaf and Amsterdam’s UMC teaching hospital has revealed.

The survey shows that eight out of 10 respondents still don’t wash their hands for long enough while seven out 10 are not sufficiently aware that touching the face can transmit the virus via the mouth or eyes.  Over half of the respondents continue to go to public gatherings of over 20 people and young people still hug and shake hands an average of five times a day, the paper reports.

‘The Netherlands is an easy target for coronavirus because of poor hygiene,’ said researchers Leonard Hofstra and Hamza Yousuf, who professed themselves ‘flabbergasted’ at the findings. ‘In the absence of a vaccine or medication, responsible behaviour is the most important weapon against the virus that we have.’

The rules for coughing and sneezing are being followed by most, the researchers said, but the overall commitment to the rest of the new rules is still insufficient.

Handwashing is a problem, Hofstra and Yousuf said. ‘75% are not tackling all the recommended spots. They wash the back of the hands, the fingers and in between the fingers. But a third are neglecting the wrists and the nail beds and half don’t wash underneath their fingernails. One in three don’t wash their hands long enough. Some 4,000 respondents take less than ten seconds’.

Touching the face with the hands is another common mistake, and one that is difficult to eradicate, the paper said.

‘We often touch our face with our left hand, which is coupled to the left hemisphere of the brain. That is where our emotions are located and as such it is an emotional response, which is difficult to unlearn. But it can help if we tell each other we’re doing it,’ neuropsychology professor Erik Scherder told the Telegraaf.

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