Planes, trains and touchscreens: the coronavirus danger zones


Planes, trains and touchscreens: the coronavirus danger zones

These are the everyday objects where germs are lurking, and the best ways to deal with the dangers

Maria Lally

I’m no germaphobe, but I once saw a man on my train sneeze quietly into his copy of a free London newspaper before neatly folding it back up and getting off. At the next stop another man got on the train, opened up the discarded paper and began reading it, blissfully unaware of its sticky contents. After that I vowed never to read papers left on trains again, ditto in hairdressers and doctors’ surgeries.

Now, amid growing concern over the coronavirus outbreak in the UK, even the most relaxed among us are becoming more germ-conscious; washing our hands more, bulk-buying hand sanitiser (British sales rose by 255% last month), keeping our distance from fellow commuters and colleagues, and working from home. This week the public was also urged to clean their smartphones twice a day with alcohol wipes to help prevent the spread of the virus – which had its first case in SA on Thursday – since Covid-19 can lurk on the flat, glass surface of a phone for almost a week.

“You could be washing your hands, but if you start touching your smartphone screen and then touch your face that is a potential route of infection,” said William Keevil, a professor of environmental healthcare at the University of Southampton...

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