Hyderabad: A 2015 study has revealed that people touch their faces 23 times an hour of which 44 percent involved contact with a mucous membrane.

According to the study by McLaws et al, people touch their faces way more often than they should. This is pertinent especially in the context of the coronavirus pandemic.

“Of all face touches, 44 percent involved contact with a mucous membrane,” said the study.

This number is problematic, in the sense, that people have increased chances of catching the virus unless and until self-restraint is observed. While the sample size of 26 students is relatively small, the study’s findings indicate a trend that is universally more or less the same, argue the researchers.

Another study released in 2014 also showed that people touched their T-zones at least 19 times in 2 hours, on average. T-zone refers to the area consisting of the eyes, nose and mouth, a term usually used by dermatologists. In this study, a total of 79 people were the subjects, which mostly included clinicians and staff.

“Eyes, nose, and mouth are the main mucous membranes which will be the medium in case of a transmission of COVID-19. So, the more you touch your face with your hands, the more are the chances of contracting the disease. Because your hands get contaminated when you keep touching surfaces. It is something that we do unconsciously. We need to be conscious about such actions,” said Dr. Parvathy Sankar, a practicing physician.

The WHO had earlier stated that there is no certainty as to how long the novel coronavirus stays on the surface. “Studies suggest that coronavirus (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment),” said the WHO.

In such a scenario, it is important that people do not touch their faces unnecessary as a precautionary measure.

Amritha Mohan

Amritha Mohan is a reporter at the NewsMeter. Shortly after completing her Master's in Communication at the University of Hyderabad, she began teaching courses on media and culture as a guest lecturer at the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication, North-Eastern Hill University (NEHU), Shillong. Amritha has previously interned with news organisations such as Greater Kashmir and Newslaundry. A lover of travel and photography, she spends most of her time planning road trips to the North-East. Nothing makes her happier than a green turf and a team to play football with. She primarily reports on education, tech, human-interesting and critical features.

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