SNEEZING and coughing into your hands might seem polite – but it spreads more germs than using a tissue, say health chiefs.
Huddersfield people are being urged to use tissues to help keep colds and flu at bay this winter.
The call comes after new research showed almost two-thirds of people in Yorkshire use their hands instead of a tissue to cover a cough or sneeze.
And more than half believed it was the most effective way to reduce the spread of germs that cause colds and flu.
Professor Paul Johnstone, director for public health for NHS Yorkshire and the Humber, said:
“It’s generally considered good manners to put your hand over your mouth if you cough or sneeze. The message here is to go that little bit further.
“If we get into the habit of catching it, killing it, binning it by using a tissue, then we can prevent the spread of illnesses and everyone will benefit.
“People may feel that a cold or flu isn’t all that serious. However, by getting into good, and simple, habits we could also prevent a future flu pandemic.”Š
To address the myths, the Department of Health is running a new campaign – Catch It, Bin It, Kill It.
The drive aims to raise awareness of the importance of good respiratory and hand hygiene by following three simple steps to prevent the spread of illness:
Catch It – germs spread easily, so always carry tissues and use them to catch your cough or sneeze.
Bin It – germs can live for several hours on tissues, so dispose of your tissue as soon as possible.
Kill It – Hands can transfer germs to every surface you touch. Clean your hands as soon as you can.
The research also showed how one in five Yorkshire people have taken up to three days off work with colds and flu in the last six months.
Statistics also revealed how around 10-15% of the population develop flu each year, costing the UK up to £4.5bn annually.
A fifth of all Yorkshire people admitted to using and re-using their tissues until they resembled lace doilies.
Only 4% said they owned hankies and had one at the ready.