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With COVID-19 cases in nearly 50 countries, and the World Health Organization’s risk assessment now at the highest level, there’s never been a better time to brush up on one of the easiest ways to avoid the spread of infectious disease: proper, consistent hand hygiene.

Everyone from the WHO to the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has repeatedly emphasized regular hand-washing (or hand sanitizer if water and soap aren’t available) as a way to prevent the spread of the new coronavirus.

Dozens of studies show hand-washing can prevent life-threatening diseases, and even save lives. Reviews of the research, looking at the impact of hand-washing on respiratory diseases, have found the practice cut infections by around 15 to 20 percent.

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