Virologist reveals why you should only wear one pair of shoes outside the house and take them off as soon as you get home on Coronavirus: How Clean Is Your House?
- Channel 4’s How Clean Is Your House follows two Midlands couples
- A&E doctor Dr Javid Abdelmoneim and virologist Dr Lisa Cross reveal all
- They explain people should only wear one pair of shoes outside to reduce risk
- Shoes should be removed as soon as you get in the door and left in same place
Shoes could be the unlikely source of coronavirus in your home if you don’t take them off as soon as you get in the door, a documentary has revealed.
Channel 4-s How Clean Is Your House followed two Midlands couples as they learnt how to protect their families against COVID-19 – which could live on the rubbery soles of shoes for up to five days.
Experts Dr Javid Abdelmoneim, an A&E doctor, and virologist Dr Lisa Cross, revealed only one pair of shoes should be worn outside the house and they need to be taken off as soon as you get home.
This will limit the chances of the virus contaminating the home, they said.
Channel 4-s How Clean Is Your House followed two Midlands couples as they learnt how to protect their families against COVID-19 – which could be brought in on shoes (file image)
Experts Dr Javid Abdelmoneim (centre), an A&E doctor, and virologist Dr Lisa Cross (left), revealed only one pair of shoes should be worn outside the house
They added: ‘When you first come in from the outside, take off your shoes immediately.
‘Most shoes have a non-porous rubbery sole, which the virus can survive on anywhere between three and five days.
‘Keep shoes in your hallway, or the same spot and try to use only one pair of shoes to go outside.
‘It’s believed coronavirus can last up to 24 hours on clothes. If you have had to use public transport, or come into close contact with people, think about changing your clothes immediately and putting them in the wash.’
Elsewhere in yesterday’s programme they explained groceries (pictured) should be cleaned as soon as they’re brought into the house
Elsewhere in yesterday’s programme they explained care should be taken when bringing groceries or a takeaway into the house.
The food should be emptied out and wiped down with soap and water in a specially designated area, explained Dr Cross.
She said: ‘We have to go back to first principles really here. It is an item that is coming in from the outside so could have virus on.’
All items with an outer plastic packaging that can be disposed off should be emptied out into separate containers and put into the fridge.
And any jars, cartons or tins should be wiped down with a plastic cloth.
Dr Abdelmoneim revealed: ‘Current guidance tells us that the food itself is unlikely to be a risk because even if particles are ingested they will not survive in our stomach.’
Virologist Dr Lisa Cross (pictured), explains extra precautions need to be taken by everyone to stop the spread of the virus, and in particular to protect those who are currently shielding
When the food has been put away and washed it is important to wipe down the floor and any reusable bags with soap and water before then washing your hands.
‘There’s one more thing to consider. The bags the shopping came in,’ said Dr Abdelmoneim.
Dr Cross explained: ‘If this was a canvas bag you could be popping that in your washing machine. If it’s a plastic bag you can just be decontaminating the outsides really easily.
When the food has been put away and washed it is important to wipe down the floor and any reusable bags (pictured) with soap and water before then washing your hands
The show explains vulnerable people who are shielding (right) need to be protected from those who are showing symptoms (left). Anyone who doesn’t have symptoms (centre) needs to keep a distance from those who do, even if they share a house
‘And then the key thing to remember is if it’s going on the floor just choose the same spot every time so you will get into the routine of what you’re doing.
‘Do all this, give it a wipe down, and then wash your hands.’
She told Femail it was important for people to take precautions when taking their shopping home.
‘Your house could be a shining example of cleanliness, but every time we bring some of the outside world in, we are potentially bringing infectious viral particles in,’ she explained.
‘It is especially important to decontaminate not so much the food per se, but the packaging it comes in – as that is where the virus could “land”.
‘So for example, remove the packaging on the biscuits, put them in a tin because if you don’t, every time (in the next few days) you get another biscuit your hand could be in contact with the virus and then that hand is going to your mouth and that’s bad news.’
It comes after a Scottish woman admitted she is washing all her plastic wrapped groceries amid the COVID-19 pandemic – while others have confessed to cleaning their post.
It comes after Lisa Mackenzie, from Scotland, shared a photo to Twitter of unopened chocolate bars soaking in a bowl of bubbly water (pictured)
‘It’s early 2020 and you are washing plastic-wrapped treats,’ Lisa captioned her amusing photograph (pictured)
An American doctor previously warned families to leave their produce outside for three days, as well as either throwing out or disinfecting any packaging, because of a minor risk of infection.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine showed coronavirus can live on cardboard for 24 hours and on stainless steel and plastic for up to to three days.
Lisa Mackenzie, from Scotland, shared a photo to Twitter of unopened chocolate bars soaking in a bowl of bubbly water.
‘It’s early 2020 and you are washing plastic-wrapped treats,’ she captioned the amusing photograph.
Another social media user shared this photograph to demonstrate how their household was now washing their vegetables amid the coronavirus pandemic
The post was liked more than a 100 times, with many Twitter users admitting to also washing their supermarket items (pictured)
The post was liked more than 100 times, with many Twitter users admitting to also washing their supermarket items.
‘We’re doing this too, been doing it for a month. Everything. From post to potatoes sacks,’ one wrote, as another said: ‘I’m washing the post.’
A third confessed: ‘Got our Morrison’s delivery and everything I couldn’t wipe/wash has gone into ‘grocery quarantine’ – three days for plastic, a day for cardboard – before it goes into the fridge or cupboard.’
However, not everyone was a fan of the idea and said they’d prefer to just wash their hands
A Michigan doctor has urged people to leave their groceries outside for three days or thoroughly disinfect each food product.
In a YouTube video posted last month Jeffrey VanWingen, a doctor at Family Medicine Specialists in Grand Rapids, warned customers to take extra care with their food packaging.
He suggests the best way to avoid picking up germs from your groceries is to leave them outside for three days before touching them.
But when this isn’t possible, he shows how he believes people should clean their items – by disinfecting each item with wipes or spray and ridding it of its outside packaging.
It comes after an American doctor (pictured) warned families to leave their produce outside for three days, as well as either throwing out or sterilising any packaging
‘This all seems a bit time consuming, but, in truth, these days people do have a bit more time on their hands,’ Dr VanWingen said. ‘Let’s be methodical and be safe, and not take any chances.’
He added: ‘Imagine that the groceries that you have are covered with some glitter, and your goal at the end of this is to not have any glitter in your house, on your hands, or especially, on your face.
‘Imagine that disinfectants and soap, they have the power to dissolve that glitter,’ he claimed.
How long can corornavirus survive on various surfaces?
Aerosols: up to 3 hours
Copper: up to 4 hours
Cardboard: up to 24 hours
Plastic: up to 2-3 days
Stainless Steel: up to 2-3 days
However, a professor of infectious diseases said the risk of transmission through food packaging is low and people should simply employ common sense.
Stephen Baker, from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, said viruses – unlike bacteria – do not survive well outside the body.
The NHS website’s coronavirus page also says: ‘It’s very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food.’
Prof Baker said the risk is ‘not zero’ when it comes to supermarket and home food deliveries, but it is ‘relatively minor’.
He said it is not possible for every piece of food to be decontaminated by a supermarket, but ‘whilst the risk, I would say, is not zero, it’s pretty, pretty small’.
Prof Baker said bread taken from a supermarket shelf should go into a bag straight away, and recommended washing fresh fruit and vegetables as normal.
‘Things that are in packages, I would maintain a degree of common sense with the view that they are unlikely to make anybody sick,’ he said, adding that wet wipes or alcohol wipes can be used if there are any concerns.
Prof Baker said the virus will survive for a period of time on packaging, but not indefinitely.
‘I think that we can’t get to the point where we’re disinfecting every item we come in contact with. I would say there isn’t any real necessity to throw away packaging any sooner than you would do normally,’ he said.
WHAT DO WE KNOW ABOUT THE CORONAVIRUS?
What is the coronavirus?
A coronavirus is a type of virus which can cause illness in animals and people. Viruses break into cells inside their host and use them to reproduce itself and disrupt the body’s normal functions. Coronaviruses are named after the Latin word ‘corona’, which means crown, because they are encased by a spiked shell which resembles a royal crown.
The coronavirus from Wuhan is one which has never been seen before this outbreak. It has been named SARS-CoV-2 by the International Committee on Taxonomy of Viruses. The name stands for Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus 2.
Experts say the bug, which has killed around one in 50 patients since the outbreak began in December, is a ‘sister’ of the SARS illness which hit China in 2002, so has been named after it.
The disease that the virus causes has been named COVID-19, which stands for coronavirus disease 2019.
Dr Helena Maier, from the Pirbright Institute, said: ‘Coronaviruses are a family of viruses that infect a wide range of different species including humans, cattle, pigs, chickens, dogs, cats and wild animals.
‘Until this new coronavirus was identified, there were only six different coronaviruses known to infect humans. Four of these cause a mild common cold-type illness, but since 2002 there has been the emergence of two new coronaviruses that can infect humans and result in more severe disease (Severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses).
‘Coronaviruses are known to be able to occasionally jump from one species to another and that is what happened in the case of SARS, MERS and the new coronavirus. The animal origin of the new coronavirus is not yet known.’
The first human cases were publicly reported from the Chinese city of Wuhan, where approximately 11million people live, after medics first started publicly reporting infections on December 31.
By January 8, 59 suspected cases had been reported and seven people were in critical condition. Tests were developed for the new virus and recorded cases started to surge.
The first person died that week and, by January 16, two were dead and 41 cases were confirmed. The next day, scientists predicted that 1,700 people had become infected, possibly up to 7,000.
Where does the virus come from?
According to scientists, the virus almost certainly came from bats. Coronaviruses in general tend to originate in animals – the similar SARS and MERS viruses are believed to have originated in civet cats and camels, respectively.
The first cases of COVID-19 came from people visiting or working in a live animal market in Wuhan, which has since been closed down for investigation.
Although the market is officially a seafood market, other dead and living animals were being sold there, including wolf cubs, salamanders, snakes, peacocks, porcupines and camel meat.
A study by the Wuhan Institute of Virology, published in February 2020 in the scientific journal Nature, found that the genetic make-up virus samples found in patients in China is 96 per cent identical to a coronavirus they found in bats.
However, there were not many bats at the market so scientists say it was likely there was an animal which acted as a middle-man, contracting it from a bat before then transmitting it to a human. It has not yet been confirmed what type of animal this was.
Dr Michael Skinner, a virologist at Imperial College London, was not involved with the research but said: ‘The discovery definitely places the origin of nCoV in bats in China.
‘We still do not know whether another species served as an intermediate host to amplify the virus, and possibly even to bring it to the market, nor what species that host might have been.’
So far the fatalities are quite low. Why are health experts so worried about it?
Experts say the international community is concerned about the virus because so little is known about it and it appears to be spreading quickly.
It is similar to SARS, which infected 8,000 people and killed nearly 800 in an outbreak in Asia in 2003, in that it is a type of coronavirus which infects humans’ lungs. It is less deadly than SARS, however, which killed around one in 10 people, compared to approximately one in 50 for COVID-19.
Another reason for concern is that nobody has any immunity to the virus because they’ve never encountered it before. This means it may be able to cause more damage than viruses we come across often, like the flu or common cold.
Speaking at a briefing in January, Oxford University professor, Dr Peter Horby, said: ‘Novel viruses can spread much faster through the population than viruses which circulate all the time because we have no immunity to them.
‘Most seasonal flu viruses have a case fatality rate of less than one in 1,000 people. Here we’re talking about a virus where we don’t understand fully the severity spectrum but it’s possible the case fatality rate could be as high as two per cent.’
If the death rate is truly two per cent, that means two out of every 100 patients who get it will die.
‘My feeling is it’s lower,’ Dr Horby added. ‘We’re probably missing this iceberg of milder cases. But that’s the current circumstance we’re in.
‘Two per cent case fatality rate is comparable to the Spanish Flu pandemic in 1918 so it is a significant concern globally.’
How does the virus spread?
The illness can spread between people just through coughs and sneezes, making it an extremely contagious infection. And it may also spread even before someone has symptoms.
It is believed to travel in the saliva and even through water in the eyes, therefore close contact, kissing, and sharing cutlery or utensils are all risky. It can also live on surfaces, such as plastic and steel, for up to 72 hours, meaning people can catch it by touching contaminated surfaces.
Originally, people were thought to be catching it from a live animal market in Wuhan city. But cases soon began to emerge in people who had never been there, which forced medics to realise it was spreading from person to person.
What does the virus do to you? What are the symptoms?
Once someone has caught the COVID-19 virus it may take between two and 14 days, or even longer, for them to show any symptoms – but they may still be contagious during this time.
If and when they do become ill, typical signs include a runny nose, a cough, sore throat and a fever (high temperature). The vast majority of patients will recover from these without any issues, and many will need no medical help at all.
In a small group of patients, who seem mainly to be the elderly or those with long-term illnesses, it can lead to pneumonia. Pneumonia is an infection in which the insides of the lungs swell up and fill with fluid. It makes it increasingly difficult to breathe and, if left untreated, can be fatal and suffocate people.
Figures are showing that young children do not seem to be particularly badly affected by the virus, which they say is peculiar considering their susceptibility to flu, but it is not clear why.
What have genetic tests revealed about the virus?
Scientists in China have recorded the genetic sequences of around 19 strains of the virus and released them to experts working around the world.
This allows others to study them, develop tests and potentially look into treating the illness they cause.
Examinations have revealed the coronavirus did not change much – changing is known as mutating – much during the early stages of its spread.
However, the director-general of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, Gao Fu, said the virus was mutating and adapting as it spread through people.
This means efforts to study the virus and to potentially control it may be made extra difficult because the virus might look different every time scientists analyse it.
More study may be able to reveal whether the virus first infected a small number of people then change and spread from them, or whether there were various versions of the virus coming from animals which have developed separately.
How dangerous is the virus?
The virus has a death rate of around two per cent. This is a similar death rate to the Spanish Flu outbreak which, in 1918, went on to kill around 50million people.
Experts have been conflicted since the beginning of the outbreak about whether the true number of people who are infected is significantly higher than the official numbers of recorded cases. Some people are expected to have such mild symptoms that they never even realise they are ill unless they’re tested, so only the more serious cases get discovered, making the death toll seem higher than it really is.
However, an investigation into government surveillance in China said it had found no reason to believe this was true.
Dr Bruce Aylward, a World Health Organization official who went on a mission to China, said there was no evidence that figures were only showing the tip of the iceberg, and said recording appeared to be accurate, Stat News reported.
Can the virus be cured?
The COVID-19 virus cannot be cured and it is proving difficult to contain.
Antibiotics do not work against viruses, so they are out of the question. Antiviral drugs can work, but the process of understanding a virus then developing and producing drugs to treat it would take years and huge amounts of money.
No vaccine exists for the coronavirus yet and it’s not likely one will be developed in time to be of any use in this outbreak, for similar reasons to the above.
The National Institutes of Health in the US, and Baylor University in Waco, Texas, say they are working on a vaccine based on what they know about coronaviruses in general, using information from the SARS outbreak. But this may take a year or more to develop, according to Pharmaceutical Technology.
Currently, governments and health authorities are working to contain the virus and to care for patients who are sick and stop them infecting other people.
People who catch the illness are being quarantined in hospitals, where their symptoms can be treated and they will be away from the uninfected public.
And airports around the world are putting in place screening measures such as having doctors on-site, taking people’s temperatures to check for fevers and using thermal screening to spot those who might be ill (infection causes a raised temperature).
However, it can take weeks for symptoms to appear, so there is only a small likelihood that patients will be spotted up in an airport.
Is this outbreak an epidemic or a pandemic?
The outbreak was declared a pandemic on March 11. A pandemic is defined by the World Health Organization as the ‘worldwide spread of a new disease’.
Previously, the UN agency said most cases outside of Hubei had been ‘spillover’ from the epicentre, so the disease wasn’t actually spreading actively around the world.
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