The coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak is causing distress and apprehension around the UK, with worldwide cases rising rapidly and the virus threatening to become a pandemic.
It has come during flu season, a time when the NHS is already stretched to capacity, so coronavirus is only adding to the pressures placed on the country’s healthcare system.
As the development of a coronavirus vaccine continues, experts are now highlighting various every-day objects that may carry the virus (and all sorts of other infectious agents), one of which being fuel pumps.
A fuel pump handle is used hundreds of times in a single day, and scientific data has shown that they could be potent virus carriers and may put motorists at risk if the threat of coronavirus continues.
What has been said?
Mark Tongue of Select Car Leasing said that, while the majority of people understand the importance of washing their hands regularly after coming into contact with certain household objects, it’s easy to forget how often fuel pumps are used and how little they are cleaned.
He has also pointed out that very few of us bother to wear the protective, disposable gloves available at petrol stations, despite often buying a snack from the shop and eating it in our vehicles after filling up our tanks.
Such habits will inevitably leave us vulnerable to diseases like coronavirus and the all other germs lurking on fuel pumps that we use on a weekly basis.
How unclean are fuel pumps?
This isn’t the first time that petrol and diesel pumps have been under fire for their pathogen-spreading properties, as several studies in recent years have reiterated just how unclean they can be.
In 2011, an American personal cleanliness brand assessed samples from hundreds of different public surfaces across major cities, and out of all the objects (including cash machine buttons, escalator rails and vending machines), fuel pumps were found to be the most unhygienic. According to the leader of the project, this was largely down to how little the handles are cleaned and disinfected.
Another study was done in 2016 by a travel website in the USA, which found that fuel pumps had an average of over 11,000 times more germs than a household toilet!
What should you do?
It goes without saying that you shouldn’t avoid putting petrol in – that’ll just end in a breakdown and leave you out-of-pocket.
But as concerns over COVID-19 continue to rise, drivers are being urged to:
- Use the disposable gloves available at petrol stations
- Disinfect their hands after filling up
- Try not to touch their face, mouth or eyes after using a fuel pump
- Keep a pack of disinfectant wipes in their car
- Wash their hands after a journey (at the very least!)
Coronavirus updates are coming in thick and fast, so be sure to keep an eye on the GOV.UK website for the latest information.