When at a filling station, motorists are now being recommended to cover their hands when refuelling with petrol or diesel to avoid getting or passing on, flu, Covid, Strep A and other serious illnesses. This follows guidance from the UK Health Security Agency (UKHSA) that unwell adults should wear a face covering if they have to go out.
The call follows research which shows that five percent of all fuel pump handles have Covid-19 present on their surfaces.
This equates to at least one contaminated fuel nozzle at every single fuel station in the UK.
With over two million motorists refilling their vehicles on a daily basis, over 100,000 drivers will be handling fuel nozzles contaminated with Covid-19 each day.
That figure could soar as people get back on the road after the Christmas break, with forecourts being a potential hotbed for the transmission of illness where drivers fill up without wearing gloves.
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GripHero, which supplies on-the-nozzle anti-static gloves to forecourts across the UK, is asking drivers to play their part in stopping the spread of flu, Covid and other illnesses as they restart the New Year.
Oli Yeo, inventor of GripHero, said: “We know that transmissible variants of Covid as well as seasonal flu, and Strep A are spreading across the UK rapidly.
“One of the highest transmission points is fuel pump handles, as drivers that fail to wear gloves can swiftly pass on and pick up a transmissible illness from other drivers that have coughed or sneezed on their hands and then held the fuel pump.
“You only have to look at drivers in traffic to see how frequently they touch their face, rub their eyes, or eat food on the go.
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“That creates a direct path for flu, Covid and other illness if gloves aren’t used. It’s one place that a mask just won’t help.”
The number of Covid-infected patients in wards hit its highest level in two months, and the number of patients being admitted to hospital with flu jumped seven-fold in a month, according to NHS data.
There are growing worries that peaks in illness throughout 2023 could put an even larger strain on the NHS.
According to the British Medical Association (BMA), pressure on the NHS is “intolerable and unsustainable”.
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MP Steve Brine, chair of the Commons health and social care select committee, added that fears of a “twindemic”, caused by flu and Covid infections, was “sadly being realised”.
Mr Yeo continued, saying it was “good news” that almost all UK fuel stations provide gloves for the health and safety of their customers.
He added: “Wearing gloves before you pick up the fuel pump handle forms a physical barrier between your hand and whatever the many drivers in front may have left on that surface.
“Given that you’ll be holding a surface that has been tightly held by hundreds of other drivers for up to three minutes, we simply ask that drivers ‘glove-up’ to protect themselves and their loved ones.
“It’s the only certain way of stopping the chain of transmission from fuel pump handles dead in its tracks.”
During the pandemic, GripHero dispatched over 50,000 free glove dispensers to forecourts on five continents, protecting an extra 60 million people.
Research has found that the surface of a fuel pump handle can be over 11,000 times dirtier than the average toilet seat.
Oli Yeo concluded: “This one simple act could help to slow the rapidity of the spread of sickness this year, which can leap hundreds of miles in a matter of hours, as millions of drivers travel from one part of the country to another, spreading illness via fuel pump handles.
“It’s a simple step that could significantly reduce the burden on the NHS, all year round, and should really become second nature.”