‘Coughs and sneezes spread diseases. Trap them in your handkerchief!’ This slogan from a 1942 British government poster was aimed at reducing absenteeism from serious war work, but it caught on, and encouraged more hygienic habits in the population as a whole. No surprise then, to find it revived to combat the latest threats from various kinds of flu and the norovirus with added instructions about binning tissues, then washing hands thoroughly.
For travellers confined in aircraft cabins, buses, rail carriages and cruise ships, this is particularly good advice. Air-conditioning has many advantages, but one of its problems is that air-borne germs can circulate very quickly. No one wants to be responsible for spreading coughs and sneezes, or any kind of flu, over several continents in the process of one long-haul flight or ‘cruise of a lifetime’.