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Coronavirus can survive on groceries – throw away outer packaging and wipe down containers, experts warn


CORONAVIRUS can survive on groceries - so you should throw away the outer packaging and wipe down containers, experts have warned.

Shoppers are advised to take extra precautions as soon as they return from a food shop or receive their online delivery to reduce their risk of catching Covid-19.

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Experts told Channel 4's How Clean Is Your House that these measures are particularly important to protect those who are currently shielding.

It comes after studies showed that the new coronavirus has the ability to live on cardboard for 24 hours and three to five days on steel and plastic.

Virologist Dr Lisa Cross, who features on the programme, explained that when groceries are brought into the home, they should be emptied in a designated area of the floor.

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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."

Items that come in plastic wrapping should be decanted into separate containers while the outer packaging is put straight in the bin.

All jars, cartons or tins should be wiped down with soapy water and a cloth.

Once the food has been put away, it's important to give the floor a clean as well as any reusable bags before washing your hands.

Dr Cross added: "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.

"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.

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

Dr Lisa Crossvirologist

"Do all this, give it a wipe down, and then wash your hands."

Dr Javid Abdelmoneim, who works as an A&E doctor, told the programme: "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."

Cleaning your home

It's not just groceries that people should be concerned about - other items around the home will need a regular deep clean to stop the spread of the virus, experts say.

Researchers at the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention found that coronavirus can survive on some inanimate surfaces like bed frames, door handles and kitchen cabinets for up to nine days.

Dr Alexa Mieses, an assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of North Carolina, said people should be cleaning and disinfecting their houses regularly.

When it comes to cleaning, she told the Huffington Post: "You should be doing a regular cleaning routine, which includes removing dirt and dust, and regular household cleaning products are fine for this."

Household products you should use to deep clean your home to protect against coronavirus

There are four key products you should be using to eliminate traces of coronavirus in your home...

1. Soap and water
Soap and water are your first line of defence to remove the virus from surfaces.

Soap interferes with the fats in the virus shell and lifts it from surfaces - this is then rinsed off by water.

Of course, you also need to wash your hands when you come in from the shops and wash your food as normal.

2. Bleach

The active ingredient in bleach – sodium hypochlorite – is very effective at killing the virus.

Make sure you leave the bleach to work for ten to 15 minutes then give the surface a wipe with a clean cloth.

The bleach works by destroying the protein and what’s known as the ribonucleic acid (RNA) of the virus – this is the substance that gives the blueprint for making more virus particles when you become infected.

3. Surgical spirit

Surgical spirit is mostly made up of the alcohol ethanol which has been shown to kill coronaviruses in as little as 30 seconds.

Like bleach, the alcohol destroys the protein and RNA that the virus is made up of.

Moisten a cloth with some neat surgical spirit and rub it over a surface. This will evaporate and you will not need to wipe it off.

4. Surface wipes
The active ingredient in surface wipes in an antiseptic - usually benzalkonium chloride.

The wipes work by physically removing germs through the pressure you apply when you use them, and the germs then attach to the wipe.

They also leave a layer of the antiseptic on the surface that works to kill germs.

The antiseptic is shown to work well on bacteria as well as on coronaviruses that infect mice and dogs – but so far, there is no evidence that antiseptics can kill human coronaviruses.

But when it comes to disinfecting surfaces, Dr Mieses urges people to use bleach or a cleaner with 70 per cent alcohol.

How often you should disinfect depends on whether you are in the high-risk category for Covid-19, how many people live in your home, and how often you all share common items and surfaces.

Though there’s no hard and fast rule, you should probably disinfect more frequently if you’re high-risk or have a family member working outside the home.

If someone in your home is experiencing coronavirus symptoms, you will also want to disinfect surfaces more.

You probably don’t need to clean your whole house from top to bottom every day, but rather focus on surfaces including doorknobs, tables, sinks, light switches, remote controls, toilets and handles - anything that is touched often.

Another thing you can also do to keep your home clean amid the coronavirus pandemic is to make sure you air out the spaces you are spending time in regularly.

An infected person will produce thousands of tiny droplets which contain the virus every time they cough and coronavirus can survive in the air for up to three hours.

So by opening the window, you can remove and disperse the droplets and reduce the amount of virus in the air – which will reduce the risk of infection for others.

Don't forget clothes

It's important to remember your clothes and towels can be a hot-bed for germs, especially if they're used by more than one person.

This is why it's key you wash your clothes more than you usually would during the coronavirus outbreak.

In particular, the higher the temperature you wash your clothes in - the more likely you are to kill off any signs of Covid-19.

And "the much revered 30-degree wash" won't necessarily be enough to kill the virus.

Deyan Dimitrov, Laundryheap CEO, says: "Our core body temperature runs at an average of 37C, and provides the ideal conditions for bacteria and viruses to thrive.

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"This means if you’re looking to fight off the dreaded coronavirus, the much revered 30C wash might not always pack the punch needed.

“Most viruses won’t survive in temperatures over 60C, so you could opt for this setting for items that are particularly germ-ridden and washed less often, like tea towels, bedding, bath towels, gloves, scarves, and children’s clothing."

However, if you’re concerned about your environmental impact by washing clothes at a high temperature, just make sure you're washing clothes far more often instead.

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