Is it true that COVID-19 is now spreading quickly through gas / petrol pumps?
Find out what’s this new social media rumour is all about, and what the FACTS really are!
Claim : COVID-19 Is Spreading Through Gas / Petrol Pumps!
This new message that is going viral on WhatsApp and Facebook claims that an unnamed hospital has informed the public that COVID-19 is now spreading quickly through gas / petrol pumps.
It advises everyone to wear gloves or use paper towels while refilling their vehicles at the gas / petrol stations.
HOSPITAL has informed the public that the virus appears to be spreading so quickly through PETROL PUMPS
They have asked to tell everyone to wear GLOVES or use PAPER TOWELS while filling. DISPOSE THEM IMMEDIATELY after using.
Please send to everyone in your contact list.
Do not keep this information to yourself. Make it available to all your family and friends
COVID-19 Is NOT Spreading Through Gas / Petrol Pumps!
When the COVID-19 pandemic first started, the pumps at gas / petrol stations were identified as a potential source of COVID-19 spread.
Hence, gas / petrol stations were advised to constantly wipe clean the buttons and handles of the gas / petrol pumps.
However, the new viral message is simply another FAKE STORY being circulated on social media. Here are the facts…
Fact #1 : Fomite Transmission Is Rare
Early studies show that the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 can persist on surfaces for a long time.
However, later quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) studies show that the risk of getting infected through contact with contaminated surfaces / objects (fomites) is low.
How low? Generally, less than 1 in 10,000 contacts with a contaminated surface will result in a COVID-19 infection.
While not impossible, it is much harder to get infected from touching contaminated surfaces or objects, because you have to then touch your eyes, nose or mouth with your contaminated hands to get infected.
That is likely why there have been no COVID-19 clusters attributed to transmission from gas / petrol stations.
Fact #2 : It Is Dangerous To Wear Gloves At Gas / Petrol Station!
No matter what social media tells you – you should NEVER wear gloves at a gas / petrol station.
Plastic gloves like what you see in these pictures can generate static electricity, and may spark a fire while you refill your car!
Fact #3 : Latex / Nitrile Gloves May Not Protect You
Some automotive experts are recommending that motorists opt for latex or nitrile gloves because they will not generate static electricity at the gas / petrol pumps.
That is bad advice.
Yes, latex and nitrile gloves will protect your hands from touching contaminated surfaces. But many people actually contaminate themselves while removing their gloves.
Unless you are a healthcare worker who is familiar on how to properly wear and remove rubber / nitrile gloves without contaminating yourself, you should not wear them.
Fact #4 : COVID-19 Primarily Spreads Through People
The SARS-CoV-2 virus primarily spreads through droplets, as well as through aerosol, from infected people. It does not spread by touch.
Hence, the best policy for gas / petrol stations is to insist that EVERYONE must wear a face mask.
This prevents direct transmission by droplets, and greatly cuts down on aerosols. And best of all – it prevents the gas / petrol pump surfaces from being contaminated!
If everyone wears a face mask, fomites – contaminated surfaces or objects – will be virtually non-existent.
Fact #5 : You Can’t Get Contaminated If You Sanitise Your Hands!
Instead of worrying so much about getting your hands contaminated with COVID-19, just sanitise them!
If you are super worried, spread alcohol-based hand sanitiser onto the buttons and handle of the gas / petrol pump.
You can’t get COVID-19 from contaminated surfaces if you keep your hands clean!
This isn’t just my advice, this is what the US CDC recommends too!
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Dr. Adrian Wong has been writing about tech and science since 1997, even publishing a book with Prentice Hall called Breaking Through The BIOS Barrier (ISBN 978-0131455368) while in medical school.
He continues to devote countless hours every day writing about tech, medicine and science, in his pursuit of facts in a post-truth world.
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