Healthy Living

Could You Unknowingly Infect Hundreds with Corona?


One of the most vexing problems with trying to contain COVID-19 is that people can have the virus multiplying in their body before they feel a single cough or other symptom.

“A person could be ‘viremic’ — meaning the virus is circulating in their body, for days before they even have a symptom. Even more vexing, experts are now finding that some people can have the virus and never experience any sign of it. In India some recent events pertaining to their congregations, spread the infections to thousands of people-deliberately or innocently may be a moot point! During the 2003 SARS epidemic in Beijing, China, the CDC report notes, one person was behind a transmission to 76 others. When MERS circulated in South Korea, a single individual infected 28 others, who subsequently gave it to more than a hundred more. Super-spreaders have also been responsible for measles outbreaks in the United States, the report says. The two most important ways to keep yourself from spreading the coronavirus are to avoid getting the disease in the first place and, if you do get sick, to keep from contaminating others.

Spread of virus through groceries?

COVID-19 infection can stay on packages, like grocery items, for longer than people might think. Because of that, they suggest strategies like leaving groceries in a garage or on a porch for three days, and immediately sterilizing the packages  if you can't wait to bring inside.

How Long the Novel Coronavirus Stays on Surfaces (and in the Air)

The study found that the virus, known officially as SARS-CoV-2, stays on surfaces for various periods of time, depending on the nature of the surface:

  • Hard surfaces like plastic, steel, countertops, and glass: 72 hours
  • Porous surfaces like cardboard, paper, and fabrics: 24 hours
  • Airborne in droplets released by coughing or sneezing: 3 hours

So, who's right? According to several health experts, they both are. Dr. Allen is right that your risk of getting COVID-19 is much higher if you're around an infected person than around a package that may have gotten some droplets on it from someone with symptoms, but VanWingen makes some excellent points about not transferring germs to multiple surfaces inside your home.

"At this point, we are obviously still learning about this virus and how it spreads, but we do know the main transmission is person to person," says Debra Goff, PharmD, the founding member of the antimicrobial stewardship program at the Ohio State University Wexner Medical Center in Columbus, and a recent appointee to the World Health Organization antimicrobial stewardship program in low- and middle-income countries.

  • In addition to following recommended distance of six feet between you and other people, washing your hands more often, and not shopping when you are ill, here are some other ways Use reusable bags wisely.New Hampshire and Massachusetts now ban these bags because of concerns about viruses clinging to them, but Woolbright says plastic bags aren't a panacea, since you don't know who's been handling them. She suggests using only bags that are washable, and washing them after every trip.
  • Make a grocery list prior — and stick with it.Not only does this minimize the time you spend in the store, but it reduces your browsing, which means you're not handling multiple items to read labels and then putting them back on the shelf.
  • Keep your hands sanitized. Most, if not all, grocery stores now have sanitizer near the shopping carts that you can use on your hands as well as the cart handles. Don't skip this step.
  • Go cashless. Pay with a credit card, because even before this pandemic, research has noted how notoriously germy cash can be. For example, a study in the April 2017 issue of PLoS Onefound that randomly swabbed $1 bills in New York City had more than a hundred different strains of bacteria. And, interestingly, most had traces of cocaine — but that's a different issue.
  • Have an "indoor-only" wardrobe. When you get home, take your shoes off, preferably outside. Change into your indoor clothes and put your outdoor clothes in the washer.

Dr. Wu recommends these five steps after the items reach home:

  1. If you bought anything that is acceptable to keep in your car or garage for over three days (toilet paper, potatoes, onions, etc.), do so. Coronavirus should no longer remain on those surfaces after 72 hours.
  2. For items that need to be brought inside and frozen, refrigerated, or eaten quickly: First wash your hands carefully. Designate counter or floor space and cover it with cloth or paper towels to denote uncleaned versus cleaned foods. Put all your grocery items first on the uncleaned surface. Have either Lysol or Clorox in spray form, and paper towels or wipes. 
  3. One by one, clean the surfaces of each of these items: bread wrapped in plastic, yogurt containers, etc.
  4. After each item is cleaned, move it to the "clean" surface.
  5. Finally, discard all remaining plastic bags, and then wash your hands carefully again.


This as a way of establishing the right habits when it comes to cleaning your fruits and vegetables. Clean your hands both before and after handling produce, especially if you're reaching into a bag of prewashed salad (which you actually don't have to wash again, she says).

  • Make your own produce wash: Get a BPA-free spray bottle and fill it with 2 parts water and 1 part apple cider vinegar. Spritz your fruits and veggies thoroughly and then rinse very well.
  1. Because most takeout containers are intended to be single-use, transferring the food to a dish that you know has been thoroughly cleaned is not a bad idea. Just wash your hands thoroughly after handling the takeout containers. The plate needs to be cleaned with soap and water.
  2. you should take the following precautions:
  • Stay home except to get medical care.
  • Stay in touch with your doctor, and call before you go to the doctor or emergency room.
  • If you have trouble breathing, call your doctor right away.
  • Wear a mask or a cloth covering your nose and mouth.
  • Cover coughs or sneezes and wash your hands often.
  • Do not try any vaccine or medicine on your own, since none has been approved as yet.
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