Coronavirus warning: The 5 most likely places to catch coronavirus in an office

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COVID-19 is continuing to spread across the UK, with cases spiking in recent days. This has sparked further restrictions across the country, with Prime Minister Boris Johnson due to address the nation this afternoon. Mr Johnson is due to announce from Monday, Britons will only be allowed to meet in groups of six, both indoors and outdoors, in homes and restaurants. 

Despite the spiking cases, the Government is urging anyone who can return to work to do so, as long as workplaces make arrangements for COVID-safe working.

However, many have been reluctant to return to the office, with shared work environments and enclosed spaces ramping up coronavirus fears.

Using public transport to get to work has also put some workers off from returning.

Now an expert has revealed the five most likely places around the office which could spread coronavirus.

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1. Toilet Cubicles

While many of us may not think to wear a face mask to pop to the loo, you may rethink this after reading Dr George’s reasoning for doing so.

Dr George explained: “It may seem a little odd to wear a face mask to the toilet, but if you want to limit your exposure to the virus as much as possible, then it’s advisable to do so.

“You may not be aware, but when you flush a toilet without closing the lid, a cloud of aerosol droplets are released into the air that can travel an estimated 1metre from the toilet bowl.

“Those tiny particles can then linger in the air long enough to be inhaled by the next person that uses the cubicle, or land on surfaces in the bathroom.

“This is something everyone should be mindful of because those particles could contain faecal matter from a person infected with COVID-19, and are believed to be just as infectious as other modes of viral transmission.”

So to combat this, wear your mask, close the toilet lid, and wash your hands thoroughly after using the toilet facilities.

2. Kitchen Appliances

Most office spaces have some form of kitchen facilities, with kettles, microwaves and fridges for workers.

However, sharing these facilities with others may increase the risk of virus spreading.

Dr George explained: “Communal kitchens are one of the most high-touch areas in an office setting. Think of all the things you touch when making a simple cup of coffee, and you probably touch even more surfaces when preparing lunch.

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“Coffee machines, kettles, taps, fridges, microwaves, drawers, cupboards, and that’s just to mention a few.

“If your company hasn’t hired a full-time cleaner to clean appliances after each use, then everyone should take personal responsibility for doing so. Wash or sanitise your hands before and after using the kitchen.”

3. Elevator Buttons

Working in a high rise office it may be impossible to avoid using the lift at times, however pressing the button to request a lift and your floor may be another thing which increases the risk of virus spreading.

Dr George said: “Elevator buttons are riddled with germs at the best of times, let alone during a global pandemic.

“It can get frustrating, but to protect yourself and others from the virus you should wash, or at least sanitise your hands, every time you use an elevator.

“You should also avoid touching your face while in an elevator.

“You may choose to wear gloves to minimise exposure or you can buy new hands free innovations such as button pushing devices.”

4. Door Handles

Similarly to elevator buttons, door handles are an obvious source of spreading illness.

Dr George explained: “This is an obvious one, but you’d be surprised how many people don’t wash their hands after touching door handles.

“Thousands of people can touch the same door handle every day, making them a breeding ground for the virus.

“Workers in modern buildings tend to be more protected than those in older buildings as there are usually more automatic doors.

“However, it still might be worth considering buying handle hooks to overcome this issue.

“There’s also a lot of research into new surface coatings that repel the virus, so door handles made with COVID-19-resistant material may be available soon.”

5. Confined Spaces

There is a reason the Government has limited the number of people allowed indoors together, as the virus spreads quickly in confined spaces.

Dr George explained: “Being in an indoor setting makes it easier for the virus to spread, especially in confined spaces such as phone booths, small meeting rooms and elevators.

“Businesses should limit the number of people allowed in these spaces and face masks should be worn when not eating and drinking.

“Indoor ventilation is an important tool to prevent stagnant air that could contain coronavirus from hanging around, however this creates other viral transmission challenges.

“Air flow generated by air conditioning units may facilitate the transmission of viral droplets expelled by those infected over greater distances. Where possible, make sure you position your desk out of the direct air flow of heating and air conditioning units.

“Also ask your employer if they have installed viral filters or UV-C disinfection systems, which are important in preventing the viral transmission of COVID-19.”

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