rapidly spreading through petrol pumps?
A series of WhatsApp messages and posts on social media, which have been shared by millions of people, suggest that petrol pumps around the UK
are acting as ‘super-spreaders’ of the new virus.
Kevin McPartlan, Chief Executive Officer of the Irish Petroleum Industry Association, told ELN: “On Thursday 19th March we became aware of a message which was being shared on social media purporting to emanate from medical professionals in a hospital in Galway.
“The message erroneously suggested that fuel pump handles posed a particularly high risk of spreading the Corona-19 infection
. Within 24 hours we saw the message spread widely and quickly and so felt it important to correct the false information. We advise all our customers to rely solely on the advice of the Health Service Executive (HSE) and the State’s Chief Medical Officer. Both have clearly stated that the message is false.
“Nobody could say that there is absolutely no risk of infection being passed through physical contact with a petrol pump. All we can say is that the level of risk is no greater than that of touching any other hard object which others may have touched. We therefore encourage customers to follow official advice and to maintain proper hand washing/sanitising hygiene.”
The UK Petroleum Industry Association issued a statement saying: “The UK Petroleum Industry Association has been made aware of unsubstantiated reports on social media and elsewhere, concerning the spread of COVID-19
after using petrol pump nozzles at filling station forecourts.
“We are not aware of any evidence that fuel nozzle handles or other forecourt features, such as pay-at-pump keypads, are any more or less prone to the spread of COVID-19 than other hard surfaces. Members of the public should be reassured that retailers are advising site operators to implement enhanced hygiene controls at petrol station sites, with regular cleaning of hard surfaces used by members of the public and providing hand sanitiser, paper towels and plastic gloves for customers.
“The health and safety of members of the public, employees and contractors is the top priority for the UK’s downstream oil sector, especially at forecourts. We encourage everyone to follow government guidance, such as washing hands more regularly for at least 20 seconds.”