Many people still wonder. Even if I practice social distancing and I follow the confinement instructions. How likely am I to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 even if I took these precautions? Are there specific vectors of contamination that no one pays attention to? Or are there unreasonable fears about a possible vector, which isn’t really at all?
The majority of the coronavirus spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets released when someone with the virus coughs, sneezes, or talks. But it can also spread from a person carrying the virus to any surface they touch. Which can lead you to wonder about everyday situations. What is the risk of going shopping? Can dogs and cats be vectors? Is tap water potentially dangerous?
Experts don’t have all the answers on how the virus might spread, but here’s what we know so far:
1 Food containers and packaging
There is no evidence that anyone has contracted the virus from touching food containers and packaging. Many restaurants now offer take-out and contactless deliveries. However, if you are concerned, wash your hands for at least 20 seconds with soap and water after handling take-out containers. Then transfer the food to a clean dish using clean utensils. Wash your hands again before eating. After throwing away the containers, clean and disinfect all surfaces on which there were take-out containers.
2 Products bought in shops
The coronavirus may linger on fruits and vegetables that have been handled by someone with the virus. It is not known if this could make you sick. The best practice is to wash all fruits and vegetables thoroughly before eating them, running them under water. Soap is not necessary. You can rub fruits and vegetables with thick bark or skin with a clean fruit brush. Also wash your hands with soap and water as soon as you get home from shopping.
Clean and disinfect any reusable bags you have transported to and from the store. Most fabric bags can go through the washing machine and tumble dryer. The rest of the bags can be cleaned with a wipe or disinfectant spray. Consider wearing a mask when shopping, as it can be difficult to maintain social distance from other customers. In some places or stores, a mask may be required.
3 Surfaces at home
In a study by the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), researchers discovered that the virus that causes COVID-19 can live for up to four hours on copper. Up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces. Regularly clean and disinfect the most frequently affected household surfaces, such as tables, counters, door handles, switches, toilets, faucet handles and sinks.
4 Drinking water
The virus that causes COVID-19 has not been detected in drinking water. Water treatment facilities have processes to filter and disinfect water before it enters your home.
5 Close contact with people
Do not get too close to people who do not live in your household. Keep in mind the rule of social distance: Try to stay within 2 meters of others. Respiratory droplets can spread to a person 2 meters or closer after someone infected with the virus has coughed, sneezed, or spoken, which can put you at risk if you are within this 2-meter circle.
6 Dogs and cats
Some pets, including dogs and cats, have been reported to be infected with the virus that causes COVID-19 after close contact with people who had the virus. Often the animals showed no signs of disease. The virus that causes COVID-19 is mainly spread from person to person. Experts do not consider animals as an important vector for the spread of the coronavirus. Treat your pets like people, keeping them at least 2 meters from other people and animals outside your home and staying at home when possible.
7 Stool, urine, semen and other body fluids
Respiratory droplets are the main source of the virus that causes COVID-19. The virus has been detected in the stool of some people with COVID-19. Experts do not yet know what the risk of transmission is through stool, but the virus that causes COVID-19 could spread through untreated wastewater. It is also unknown whether other body fluids, such as urine, vomiting, breast milk or semen, could be vectors for the spread of the virus.
By respecting social distance and public health guidelines, like staying at home when you can and wearing a face mask when you have to go out, you help reduce the risk of infection.