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COVID-19: What You Should Know About Fomites or Things That Can Put You At Risk
Boldsky | 23rd Mar, 2020 06:30 PM

Coronavirus or COVID-19 is alarmingly spreading among humans due to its contagious nature. The threat of the spread of the disease has imposed restrictions on people making them stay in their houses with exceptions to emergencies.

As people have now isolated themselves in their houses, the human-to-human interaction is controlled to some extent. But despite that, people should be cautious about fomites and how to avoid them to prevent the coronavirus spread. So, what exactly are fomites?

What Are Fomites?

Due to the increase in population and mobility, the transmission of pathogens has intensified causing the spread of the disease to a large extent. However, to control the spread of the disease, the prominent thing is to understand how the pathogens get transmitted in the environment. Many people assume that the viruses get spread mainly through airborne route or by direct contact with the infected people. Little do they know that the environment also plays a huge part in the transmission of the disease. [1]

Fomites are the objects or surfaces (porous and nonporous) that may get contaminated with pathogens and serve as a vehicle in transmitting the disease from one person to another. When a person is ill with coronavirus, their body secretions like nasal fluid, cough or saliva shed the viruses. While coughing or sneezing, the infected droplets come out from their mouth and settle on fomites or objects present around them.

Viruses' survival on fomites depend on many factors like humidity, temperature, properties of the fomite or the nature of the virus. If the viruses stay on fomites for long, their count may decrease after a few hours and may no longer harm humans. However, if any person comes in contact with fomites while they are active, the viruses may gain entry into their bodies and cause infection.

Fomites can be anything from milk packets to the newspaper. Here is the list of fomites which may increase the risk of coronavirus and ways to avoid them.

1. Milk Packets

Many people are in their houses but constantly availing the service of milk packets at their doorstep. To some extent, it is good as the risk of going out amidst the outbreak of pandemic is reduced. However, the milk packets which are being delivered every day to our homes may contain the virus and increase the risk of coronavirus. Therefore, to maintain the safety, it is good to first wash the packet in running water and detergent and then use it or keep in the fridge.

2. Water Cans

Water is a necessity.. Keeping a stock of water is very important as we don't know long exactly will this last and till when there will be restrictions imposed from going out of the house. If you are buying water cans, make sure to wash your hands with soap and water after lifting it. Also, before bringing in the cans, disinfect it with soap and water and let them stand in sunlight for a few hours.

3. Groceries

Whatever groceries you buy may contain coronavirus as many people might have touched the packets with barehand, and who knows, some of them might be infected with COVID-19. Therefore, while buying groceries, prevent yourself from touching your eyes, mouth or nose. Also, before entering the house, leave the grocery basket outside in the sunlight and then wash the grocery packets in running water and detergent. Don't forget to change the dress you wore during grocery shopping and wash it immediately.

4. Newspaper

The newspaper which we receive every day can also increase the risk of coronavirus. Before it comes to our homes, it is handled and touched by many people in many places. We are unsure of the ways how they are handled which makes them a vulnerable object that can cause coronavirus. As we can't disinfectt newspaper with soap and water, it is better to avoid it for a few days.

5. Mobile Phones

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, digital objects like mobile phones and laptops may also act as a vehicle for coronavirus. Therefore, wiping the outer cover of mobile phones with a disinfectant is good as it may expose you to viruses. People should also keep in their mind that while they are out, limit the usage of phones or avoid keeping it to any surfaces.

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