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Is it safe to use public restrooms during the covid-19 pandemic? Hear it from the expert

Now that the lockdown has been lifted and people are stepping out and getting back to their routines, let’s ask an expert and find out if it’s okay to use public restrooms in the current scenario.
public restroom
You might want to stay away from public restrooms for a while. Image courtesy: Shutterstock
Sonakshi Kohli Published: 22 Jul 2020, 16:37 pm IST
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A few months ago when the coronavirus pandemic hit our country, the government announced a complete lockdown to prevent as well as manage the spread of the virus. However, ever since the lockdown was lifted, we’ve been encouraged to carry on with our lives and routines while practicing extreme caution. Surely, embracing these cautions as the new normal is a must.

As we’re entering this ‘new normal’, we’re already noticing that people are returning to public places. From public transport and restaurants to offices and public restrooms, everything is beginning to be used again.

While social distancing, wearing a mask, and using a sanitiser are the best ways to avoid contracting the virus while visiting most public places, can the same be said about using public restrooms?

Here’s what an expert has to say
“As per a recent study, when a toilet is being flushed, it can create a cloud of aerosol droplets that reach a height of approximately three feet. The droplets can stay in the air for a long period of time and the next user could end up inhaling them. These droplets could also land on surfaces in the bathroom. If these droplets carry the infectious virus particles, it may increase the risk of the coronavirus spread,” says Dr. Sudha Kansal, senior consultant, pulmonology and chest physician, Indraprastha Apollo Hospitals, Delhi.

“Bathrooms are enclosed spaces, and they don’t have windows. Hence,  in an environment like that, the virus is just going to linger,” she adds.

“Moreover, public toilets have the same surface hazards of any other common space during the pandemic: Door handles, faucets, and other places may have been touched by a person infected with covid-19,” she warns.

public toilet hygiene
Try to avoid using public washrooms as much as you can! Image courtesy: Shutterstock

But, what do you do when nature’s calling?
Now that you’re aware of the risk, you know that you should avoid using a public washroom as much as you can. Of course, this brings to mind an extremely important question: How can you possibly answer nature’s call?

Also, read: For every woman who uses public toilets, here is an ultimate hygiene guide. You’re welcome!

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Well, here are some tips suggested by Dr. Kansal that you can keep in mind while using a public restroom in case of an emergency:

1. Shut the lid of the pot before flushing to protect the next person who would be using the restroom.
2. If possible, carry a seat sanitizer to disinfect the seat.
3. Keep a hand sanitizer, disposable gloves, or a pack of tissue papers handy at all times.
4. Wear a mask all the time when in a public place.
5. Use a tissue to turn off the tap and open the bathroom door. Throw it away as you leave.
6. Avoid paper toilet seat cover as they get contaminated easily.
7. Avoid the use of hand towels available in public restrooms while drying your hands. Use tissue paper or a dryer instead.

Once again, it is better to avoid using the public restroom in these times, as suggested by the expert. However, if you are in the middle of an emergency, follow these few tips to stay safe.

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