Stop touching your face if you want to avoid coronavirus, medical experts say

SAN FRANCISCO, Calif. (KGO) -- According to medical experts, washing your hands is not the only thing you can do to avoid the novel coronavirus. The habit of touching your face is something you should also stop doing.

According to a study published in 2015 by the U.S. National Library of Medicine, we touch our face an average of two dozen times per hour.

Forty-four percent of those contacts with the face involve the eyes, nose and mouth.

"Our eyes nose and mouth are the only portal of entry into the human body for all respiratory infections. So, it's the only way they get in," said Ohio-based physician, Dr. William Sawyer.

Dr. Sawyer is the founder of, an organization that promotes hand and face hygiene.

"It only takes one contact with the mucus membrane to inoculate yourself with the coronavirus for instance," Sawyer said. "You don't know if it's on your hands or not because you don't have the lens to see it."

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Outside of San Francisco's Ferry building ABC7 did an experiment. We counted how many times people touched their face during the time they crossed the street.

Jessica Barcenas touched her face once in less than one minute.

"Did you notice? No I didn't! I guess it was just natural!" said Barcenas.

Others shared similar perspectives -- touching your face is natural.
"I try to never touch my face but sometimes it's instinctive," said Eric Eisenman.

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"I've heard I'm not supposed to be touching my face, it's true. But, I've been washing my hands a lot," said Adele Lawless.

The CDC's recommendations to avoid the virus are to wash your hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds as well as:

  • Avoid close contact with people who are sick.
  • Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces using a regular household cleaning spray or wipe.
  • Follow CDC's recommendations for using a facemask.

There is no current vaccine to prevent the coronavirus.
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