People must leave packages and deliveries for up to 72 hours before opening them to help prevent the spread of COVID-19, researchers have said.
The advice comes from a team of researchers from the universities of Bath, Bristol and Southampton in a bid to help reduce transmission.
The guidance from health experts and psychologists, who are working closely with Public Health England, is uploaded onto a website called Germ Defence, which the universities have updated to reflect the impact of coronavirus.
The site encourages users to work through a series of questions and scenarios and are then provided with advice to reduce their exposure to COVID-19 within the home.
Hygiene suggestions on the site include:
- Leaving packages and deliveries for up to 72 hours before opening them to reduce the risk of the disease being passed on surfaces
- Regularly disinfecting surfaces in the home
- Instilling better hygiene measures between household members, for example by not sharing towels
Dr Ben Ainsworth from the Department of Psychology at the University of Bath explains: “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.”
Professor Lucy Yardley, from the NIHR Health Protection Research Unit in Behavioural Science and Evaluation at the University of Bristol, added: “Most people think that if a family member gets ill then it is just a matter of luck whether other people in the household get infected. But our team has shown that the people who follow the Germ Defence advice get fewer and less severe infections – and so do the people they live with.
“We hope the app will save lives by helping people avoid spreading coronavirus to family members.”
:: Listen to Sophy Ridge on Sunday on Apple podcasts, Google podcasts, Spotify, Spreaker
The team wrote in in the British Medical Journal (BMJ) last week to highlight the importance of limiting the amount of virus people come into contact with at home given that most people who contract COVID-19 are cared for by those they live with.
Paul Little, Professor of Primary Care Research at the University of Southampton, who led the BMJ article 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.”