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Sneezing etiquette


  • It is not pleasant or healthy to sneeze in people’s faces.
  • Sneezes can transmit diseases that are carried in droplets or in air.
  • Learning how to sneeze properly (called “sneezing etiquette”) is important because it is more pleasant behaviour for those around you and prevents the spread of disease.

Why learn sneezing etiquette?

  • Some diseases can be transmitted from one person to another in droplets of saliva or mucous or in the air.
  • This means that, when we sneeze, we can spread diseases that we have to other people and make them sick.
  • To avoid giving diseases to other people, sneeze in the recommended manner, which does not spread germs.

DOs and DON’Ts

  • Many people sneeze into the air or into their hand to stop germs spreading. This is NOT good practice because, afterwards, you can still transmit germs by touching things or shaking the hands of other people. Don’t sneeze into your hand.
  • The correct way to sneeze without transmitting germs is to use a handkerchief or tissue. When you sneeze into either of these, you are less likely to spread germs.

What you can do

  • Explain sneezing etiquette to people in your community.
  • Explain that sneezing etiquette matters because it helps to prevent the transmission of diseases that are spread through droplets carried in the air.
  • Show people how to sneeze properly and ask them to teach the same behaviour to others.
  • Ask your local schools if they would like you to come and speak to children about sneezing etiquette.
  • When talking about sneezing etiquette, also teach people about proper hygiene (see Action tool 28 and 34).
  • Make posters that show the DOs and DON’Ts of sneezing etiquette and put them up around your community. (See Action tool 43 for more information on social mobilization techniques).

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