Wednesday, March 04, 2020

We touch our faces 23 times an hour - we're doomed!

The latest information on the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus that causes the COVID-19 disease suggests that it is probably spread person-to-person by droplets, not through the air (this in spite of the fact that Canada's official response to the outbreak seems to be assuming that it is airborne). So, inhaling other people's coughs and sneezes, and hand-to-mouth/nose/eyes. It may be able to linger on hard surfaces, to be picked up by hands, but can probably not linger for long in the air.
The best we can do, then, is to manically wash out hands as often as possible, and refrain from touching our faces. It is the latter that presents the more insuperable problem. Research suggests that we touch our faces way more than we probably think. One American study concluded that we touch our faces an average of 15.7 times an hour, while another study in South Wales yielded 23 time an hour.  Maybe Welsh people are more touchy-feely than Americans, or maybe the results are not totally reliable. A third American/Brazilian study suggests we touch our faces as little as 3.6 times an hour, at least in public places.
None of these studies were very large (10, 26 and 250 subjects respectively), which only goes to show how little this has been studied. But it seems like we probably do touch our faces way more than we might think, and my guess is that kids do it even more than the average. Furthermore, changing such ingrained habits may be next to impossible to achieve (especially in the case of kids). And yet that is exactly what we are being asked to do.
So, put away that mask (next to useless, we are told), and tie your hands behind your back. If that is not a practicable option for you, then wear a mask, so that when you do touch your face you don't touch your nose or mouth. Oh, wait, we're being told that masks are useless, and we should not be using them.
Like I say, we're doomed...

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