Five Percent Cough into a Tissue or Elbow

WELLINGTON, New Zealand, July 13 (UPI) — Less than 5 percent cover their cough or sneeze with their elbow — the approach advocated by health officials — at least in New Zealand, researchers say.

Study author Nick Wilson of Otago University Wellington in New Zealand last year during the H1N1 pandemic public health officials worldwide advised the public to cover their mouth while sneezing or coughing by using a tissue or into their elbow.


Wilson and colleagues conducted an observational survey in a train station, a hospital and a shopping mall in Wellington, New Zealand.

The researchers noted the incidence of coughs and sneezes — 5.5 coughs and sneezes per observed-person-hour — and the individual’s response.

The study found 26.7 percent of the sneezes or coughs went uncovered, while 4.7 percent were covered by a tissue, handkerchief or elbow, and 64.4 percent covered their mouth with their hands. Use of a handkerchief or covering the mouth with the elbow were the least common behaviors.

The findings were presented at the International Conference on Emerging Infectious Diseases.

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