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The hand hygiene behaviours of the public in response to the current H1N1 influenza pandemic 2009 (or other pandemics) have not previously been described. An observational study was undertaken to examine hand hygiene behaviours by people passing a hand sanitiser station in the foyer of a public hospital in New Zealand in August 2009. Of the 2,941 subjects observed, 449 (18.0%, 95% confidence interval: 16.6, 19.6) used the hand sanitiser. This is a far from optimal result in response to the health promotion initiatives in the setting of a pandemic. These findings suggest the need for more effective health promotion of hand hygiene and also provide baseline measurements for future evaluation of hygiene practices.


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