An early start to the morning, it’s cold outside and you have to contend with coughing, sniffling people on the commute – doesn’t exactly set you up for the day does it?
A survey of 1,875 UK adults, by Lloydspharmacy, reveals that 62 per cent of people feel their stress levels rising when faced with a serial sniffer on public transport.
However, nearly three in ten of thos surveyed also admitted that they themselves had been caught short on public transport without a tissue to blow their nose. Asked how they would deal with the situation, just over a quarter said they’d use either an item of clothing or whatever was available – from a newspaper, to wrappers and receipts. More than a fifth said they’d wipe their nose on their hand – a sure way to spread germs.
Even worse, a shocking 33 per cent confessed to ‘disposing’ of their bogeys, among other places: on the floor, under furniture, in their mouth - and on other people.
Asked to rank behaviour they consider ‘bad manners’, sneezing and coughing without covering your mouth ranked highest; followed by picking your nose or sniffing loudly in public and not using a tissue to blow your nose. Rather worryingly, one in 20 of those surveyed thought none of the above demonstrated bad manners.
Etiquette expert, Marie-Héléne Ferguson, says: “Good manner cost nothing and are important in all aspects of life. Handling yourself properly when you have a cold, cough or flu is no different; in fact in the case of flu it’s essential to help stop infection spreading.
“Prevention is the way forward, but if you’re poorly and need to be out in public act responsibly. Fabric hankies are a no-no in this day and age – carry tissues and use them when you blow your nose and also to cover your mouth if you cough or sneeze. Also, don’t be afraid to politely offer someone a tissue; you never know, it may save you from getting ill.”
The survey also asked people how they feel when they sniff or cough on public transport. Nearly half said they were embarrassed about the noise they make and, surprisingly, this ranked much higher than feelings of guilt about passing on infections.
Nitin Makadia, flu expert at Lloydspharmacy, says: “It’s disappointing that people are more worried about the noise they make when blowing their nose than spreading infection. We’re all responsible for helping to protect both ourselves and those that may be more vulnerable from catching germs, whether that’s by getting a flu vaccination or by helping to control germs through good hygiene.
“Last year there was a major flu outbreak, which resulted in a national shortage of flu vaccines. The good news if that this seems to have prompted people to come forward this year. In just one week in early October we saw a massive 422 per cen increase in people coming in for flu vaccines compared to the same week last year.
“But flu doesn’t discriminate, so getting vaccinated isn’t just for ‘at risk’ groups. Prevention really is our best insurance policy against getting flu, so I’d urge people to get vaccinated sooner rather than later – it’s cheap, quick and could make the coming winter much more pleasant for you and your friends and family.”