Your chances of contracting the virus are much higher than the average person if you pick your nose, recent research has found.
The study, which was conducted on health workers at two medical centres in the Netherlands, found that 84.5 per cent of the 219 participants picked their noses.
What’s more, researchers found they were more susceptible to contracting SARS-CoV-2.
This says a lot about the virus swirling around our healthcare system, and how it can be transmitted to the general public. It also gives us some perspective. If almost all healthcare workers in the Netherlands pick their noses, chances are ours do too.
Just like face masks, hand washing and social distancing, the researchers suggested a nose-picking ‚ban‘ be added to the list of infection control measures.
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„Nose picking among HCW (health care workers) is associated with an increased risk of contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection,“ the study noted, explaining that more than 17 per cent of those who like to rummage around in their nostrils caught Covid compared to about 6 per cent of those who don’t.
Interestingly, there was no significant association between nail biting and Covid-19 infection, but men with beards did show a spike, too.
„Nose picking has not been reported before as a risk factor for contracting SARS-CoV-2. Our findings highlight the importance of the nasal cavity as a main transit port for SARS-CoV-2.
„Nose picking may facilitate viral entry by directly introducing virus particles present on the hands to the nose, thus facilitating infection. The viral load in the nasal mucosa is high in the days after contracting a SARS-CoV-2 infection, even before the onset of symptoms and in patients that remain asymptomatic.“
„Subsequently, nose-picking HCW who are infected with SARS-CoV-2 could contaminate the work environment, potentially leading to further transmission,“ the study concluded, adding that transmission from healthcare worker to healthcare worker appears to be a serious problem in hospitals. „Perhaps the role of nose-picking is underestimated in this regard.“
„We recommend health care facilities create more awareness, for example by educational sessions or implementing recommendations against nose picking in infection prevention guidelines.“
So how will this play out in hospitals? Will we start seeing „no nose picking“ posters plastered around health facilities alongside hand washing and mask-wearing information and guidelines? Likely not, but it’s a good reminder all the same.