Where am I most likely to catch COVID?

The pandemic has significantly impacted our daily lives. We have seen a new disease spread widely and quickly through both contact with the infected and from touching surfaces. So, with the risk of catching the virus looming large, where am I likely to catch it? Here are four of the most likely places where you could catch COVID.

Restaurants

Restaurants were by far the most likely place to catch COVID-19 last year in the United States. They were about four times riskier than gyms and coffee shops, with hotels the fourth riskiest. A sophisticated study published in the prestigious journal Nature, is guiding reopening efforts and informing future practices. 

For Australians, who have experienced much lower rates of COVID-19, the study is still interesting in understanding the likelihood of picking up other infections, like a cold or influenza. During the pandemic, influenza rates were kept extraordinarily low due to the social distancing and hygiene measures introduced. Improved infection control in the future might turn out to be a small benefit of the COVID-19 experience. More cleaning, more distancing, and less contact points between people are the clear messages for infection control from the Centers for Disease Control.

Restaurants are places where we might spend a few hours over a meal. Wait staff will visit us numerous times during that period, touching some of the same things we touch like plates, glasses, cutlery or napkins. Before the meal, diners might gather at a the bar or visit the bathroom between courses. Of course, you can't eat and wear a mask at the same time. In other words, there are plenty of opportunities for infections to spread, so it is not surprising that restaurants top the risk list.

Gyms and fitness centers

Whenever a bunch of people are crowded in a room and begin to breath heavily like a pump class, the risk of transmitting a respiratory virus will become a factor. This makes gyms the a likely place to catch COVID. The Nature study identified gyms in their top four risky places for COVID-19 transmission. Capacity limits introduced during COVID are likely to need to be continued to give assurance to patrons that it is worth returning to the gym. For many people, any reason not to visit the gym will be excuse enough. The risk of getting ill while trying to get healthy likely means gyms will need to make a special effort to be seen to be doing the right thing as much as actually doing the right thing.

Coffee shops and hotels

Coffee shops and hotels round out the top four most likely places for you to catch COVID. It is likely they'll keep those dots on the floor for quite some time to come to encourage physical separation. Complacency might be the biggest enemy as the immediate crisis recedes.

What can be done to lower the risk of catching COVID at these places?

Sanitizers and disinfectants generally only do their job at the time of application. As soon as they are dry, the hand or surface can become contaminated again. The Doxall sanitizing and disinfecting range is different. They keep working to reduce contamination on hands or surfaces long after the initial application. During a comparative study, we cleaned two identical office blocks with Doxall and an industry-leading quaternary ammonium compounds (QUAT) sanitizer. We measured bacterial load on the Ground Floor button in their respective lifts. The Doxall-cleaned building started with a lower level of bacteria because we had been using it in the building for a fortnight. After four hours of similar lift use, the QUAT-cleaned Ground Floor button showed significant bacterial contamination whereas the Doxall-cleaned lift remained very low.

Even if you frequent these locations where you are most likely to catch COVID, the new and unique science in Doxall will help lower that risk through its long-lasting action. There is no need for a precleaning or rinsing steps that are necessary for other sanitizers, Doxall works straight away on clean or dirty surfaces and keeps working to help you implement the best possible infection control plan.

This article was written by Dr Tony Peacock BSc Hons, PhD.

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