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2009: the year that Britain learnt to wash its hands

Published 31st March, 2010 by Neil Nixon

2009: the year that Britain learnt to wash its hands

According to research unveiled recently by SCA, 89% of the UK has started washing its hands more often since the outbreak of swine flu. Last year the media was saturated with various campaigns highlighting the importance of regular hand washing to prevent the spread of germs - but did the nation pay any attention? The results of SCA’s 2010 ‘Hygiene Matters’ report suggest that in Britain, we have indeed taken action and developed some commendable habits.

The SCA 2010 ‘Hygiene Matters’ report shows that since 2009, 89% of the UK have started washing their hands more frequently. The UK has actually been ranked as one of the leading nations when it comes to hand hygiene in the world. Out of nine countries surveyed the UK came second only to China. Full global ratings are below:

1. China 91.3%
2. UK 88.6%
3. USA 87.6%
4. Germany 85.7%
5. France 80.5%
6. Sweden 74.6%
7. Russia 73.2%
8. Mexico 72.2%
9. Australia 71.1%

It also seems that since the swine flu outbreak, the nation’s understanding and awareness of hygiene has improved too. Over half (55%) of the UK state that they are now more aware of other people’s hygiene, and a similar amount (52%) feel that people should take greater responsibility of health and hygiene where they live to improve local standards. This is in sharp comparison to results from SCA research conducted in 2008 which highlighted an alarming lack of understanding in the UK about the importance of personal hygiene.

Worryingly then, over a third (34.3%) of the nation were not washing their hands regularly enough and less than half (44.4%) were washing their hands during key ‘at-risk’ situations like after sneezing or blowing their noses.

These positive results suggest that the information on hygiene and hand washing issued to the public by both government campaigns and brands such as SCA have penetrated the nation’s consciousness successfully. According to the findings people are not just thinking more about hygiene but are actually taking action and improving their hygiene habits.

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