ABU DHABI // A majority of residents in the UAE have improved their hand-washing habits because of illnesses such as the Mers coronavirus, a survey suggests.
Fifty-one per cent of participants in an online poll said they washed their hands more frequently after news stories about infections and viruses, the survey, conducted by a US company, said.
Thirty-four per cent said they washed their hands more thoroughly or for longer after the news coverage.
Concern also increased about other illnesses, with two-thirds of respondents saying they were now more worried about the flu than they were last year.
Eighty per cent of respondents said they always washed their hands after using a public washroom.
The poll was part of the online Health Hand Washing Survey, conducted by the Bradley Corporation, a US manufacturer of commercial plumbing fixtures.
Between May 5 to May 9, surveyors asked 550 adults about their hand-washing habits in public restrooms, the company said.
Fifty-five per cent of respondents were female, while 45 per cent were male, ranging in age from 18 to 54.
Of the respondents, 36 per cent were from Dubai, 35 per cent were from Abu Dhabi, 17 per cent were from Sharjah and the rest were from other emirates.
Health authorities have advised people to take basic sanitary precautions.
These include hand washing, thoroughly cooking meat before eating and pasteurising milk before drinking, to prevent respiratory illnesses such as the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome, which first emerged in Saudi Arabia in 2012.