With the UK now in its seventh week of lockdown, many bored Brits have turned to online shopping in the hopes of keeping themselves entertained.
Now, scientists have urged Brits to leave any delivery parcels for 72 hours before opening them, to reduce their risk of catching coronavirus.
The advice is being given on the Germ Defence website, which is designed to help change people’s behaviours and cut infections.
The site, which was develop by scientists from the Universities of Bath, Bristol and Southampton, draws on behaviour change techniques to provide a plan for users to reduce their exposure of Covid-19 and viral load within the home.
This is particularly important to reduce infection when one member of a household has left and returned again, the researchers say.
Suggestions on the site include:
– Leaving packages and deliveries for up to 72 hours before opening them to reduce the risk of infection being passed on surfaces
– Regularly disinfecting surfaces in the home
– Instilling better hygiene measures between household members, such as not sharing items such as towels
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.»
A previous study of 20,000 people found users of Germ Defence were less likely to catch flu or other viruses, and if they became ill their illnesses were shorter and milder on average.
The team behind Germ Defence are working closely with Public Health England, as well as international colleagues and the website is being translated into more than 20 languages.
Their study published in the BMJ last week argued that since most people with Covid-19 are cared for at home, it is important to limit the amount of virus they come into contact with by reducing viral load.
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.»
The website can be found at http://germdefence.org/.
According to Public Health England (PHE), people handling letters and parcels are not at risk of contracting the coronavirus.
Meanwhile, the World Health Organisation has advised that coronaviruses do not survive long on objects, including letters or packages.