Scottish health chiefs are urging health professionals and the public to wash their hands for at least 15 seconds at a time to prevent infections.
Chief medical officer Sir Harry Burns and chief nursing officer Ros Moore issued the reminder on Global Hand Hygiene Day (5 May 2013).
“Try singing Happy Birthday twice through as a rough guide for how long it should take,” said Moore.
More than 30 people died from flu in Scotland this winter, and it is estimated that every year up to one quarter of the population may be affected by an episode of norovirus.
Sir Burns said there was no excuse for people not to wash their hands.
He added: "It is particularly important when you are in hospital - whether you are a member of staff, visitor or patient - that you wash your hands properly to help prevent the spread of infection.
Recent statistics indicated that 95% of NHS staff were complying with hand hygiene guidelines, the Scottish government said.
Rates of the Clostridium difficile (C. diff) infection among people over 65 have fallen by 82% since 2007.
MRSA cases have reduced by 79% over the same period.
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