Coronavirus & The Two Dirtiest Things in Your Home Right Now
No points for guessing - these are your phones and toilet seats!
It’s all you’ve been hearing about lately - and for good reason. COVID-19 is now a pandemic, and the contagiousness of the novel coronavirus has left us all looking for ways to ensure it doesn’t enter our lives and homes!
It all starts with washing our hands with soap and water and avoiding touching our faces. But there’s more that can be done to stop germs and viruses from spreading, and looking at their routes of transmission can help us know exactly what’s needed.
The coronavirus is known to be transmitted through droplets from coughing or sneezing which can reach another person directly or indirectly (by touching common infected surfaces).
Now ask yourself this: What surface are you touching the most? If you’re part of this world, it has to be your phone!
Start With Your Phone - You’re ALWAYS Touching It
In a study funded by the National Institutes of Health, it was found that the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can remain on contaminated plastic and stainless surfaces for up to three days.
While we’re constantly being told to disinfect doorknobs, handles, light switches, etc., we often miss out on the one thing that’s in our hands all the time (and even worse - it’s on our faces)! Phones go through multiple places and are kept on several surfaces - after which they are either in our hands or land right on our ears. They accompany us everywhere, and this makes them more germ-laden than anything else we own. In fact, studies have found they carry more germs than a toilet seat!
By coming in direct contact with our skin, cell phones can be significant carriers of the virus and can infect us if we touch them after washing our hands. Therefore, cleaning them is extremely important.
The Quint’s article on keeping your phone infection-free amidst the coronavirus outbreak lists some ways this can be done. Disinfectant wipes, water and cloth and toothpicks can help clean your phone from all sides and corners (do follow the necessary precautions). However, it is strictly recommended to not use window cleaners, paper towels, makeup removers, vinegar or alcohol.
Coronavirus May Spread Through Poop! Maintain Toilet Hygiene
A study in the journal Gastroenterology concluded that a significant portion of coronavirus patients experience diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and/or abdominal discomfort before the onset of respiratory symptoms.
Emerging literature on the novel coronavirus has found that COVID-19 could be passed through exposure to virus-laden faeces too — via the fecal-oral route of transmission.
Stephen Morse, a professor of epidemiology at Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, told Vox, “If true, it would not be surprising. A number of other coronaviruses are excreted from the intestines, and infectious virus can be found in stool.”
But what exactly is the fecal-oral route of transmission? The contaminated faeces from an infected person can be ingested by another person indirectly, when the former doesn’t wash his/her hands properly after using the toilet and touches a surface (thereby contaminating it).
Which is why washing your hands after using the loo is a MUST!
Dr Ashwini Setya, a Gastroenterologist, in an earlier article for FIT, agreed and said, “Prevention of feco-oral transmission assumes importance to control the spread the virus.”
But transmission in the toilet can happen in another way as well. While there isn’t much evidence for it in the case of COVID-19, airborne transmission of virus-ridden feces aerosols was demonstrated at the time of the SARS and MERS outbreak, Vox reported. This happens when the residue from evaporated or infected droplets get suspended in the air when the toilet is flushed.
Dr Emeagi, who teaches vaccine development, told Metro, “When you flush the toilet, you release aerosol particles, which could be viruses or bacteria. Recent reports have suggested that COVID-19 can be spread through faeces. And so aerosolised particles of poo are a genuine risk when it comes to the spread of coronavirus.”
This is where carrying your phone to the toilet may also be worrisome, as the infected particles could land on the surface and reach our hands, even after they’re washed.
A plausible solution for this is to flush with the toilet seat’s lid on.
In all this, it is extremely important to maintain personal hygiene and to clean toilets, kitchens and household equipment regularly. And again, don’t forget your phones!
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