Waiting 72 hours before opening a package delivered to your home could help stop the spread of Covid-19, researchers say.
The advice comes from the Germ Defence website which advises the public on ways to help reduce the spread of viruses.
Guidance issued on the website has proved successful for limiting the transmission of seasonal and swine flu and has now been adapted in response to covid-19.
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Germ Defence advice was trialled on over 20,000 people during the 2009 swine flu outbreak and subsequent seasonal flu years. The study found lower rates of transmission among families who followed the guidance.
The team from Bath, Bristol and Southampton Universities hopes the advice will help change people’s behaviours, thereby reducing the risk of infection.
The researchers also suggest that disinfecting surfaces in the home and instilling better hygiene measures could limit the spread of the virus.
Advice on the Germ Defence website draws on behaviour change techniques which the researchers say will reduce the risk of exposure to covid-19 at home.
Dr Ben Ainsworth, from the department of psychology at the University of Bath, said: “We know that covid-19 is caught in the same way as other viruses.
“Germ Defence provides advice on how you can protect yourself using the same methods that have worked for other viruses.
“It only takes around 10 minutes to go through the information – but it could help protect you from coronavirus, as well as offer you a lifetime of fewer colds and flu.
“It may take a bit of practice for you and your family to use the ideas on Germ Defence. But once you have learnt them, they will become habits that you’ll do easily which will protect you from becoming ill.’
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The team behind Germ Defence say they are working closely with Public Health England (PHE), and the website is being translated into more than 20 languages.
Paul Little, professor of primary care research at the University of Southampton, said: “We developed and trialled Germ Defence so that it could be widely disseminated both during normal winter months and also during a major pandemic.
“We showed clear reductions in both transmission of infections to other family members and also in transmission from other family members.
“It should help reduce both the number of family members who become ill with covid-19, and also reduce the severity of illness if family members do become ill.”
PHE has previously said the length of time a respiratory virus can survive depends on a range of factors, including the type of surface it is on, and whether it has been exposed to sunlight and cleaning products.
Under most circumstances, PHE says, the amount of infectious virus on any contaminated surfaces is likely to have decreased significantly by 24 hours, and even more so after a further 48 hours.
The Germ Defence website can be found by following this link.
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