Questions and answers on COVID-19: Various

COVID-19 and sport

1. What is the risk of contracting COVID-19 while exercising?

There is a potential risk of contracting SARS-CoV-2 infection while exercising and this applies to both athletes and coaches. This is a particular issue in settings where athletes train in groups, engage in contact sports, share equipment or use common areas, including locker rooms. Transmission could occur through direct contact with an infected individual, indirect exposure to the virus through a contaminated object, or via aerosols/droplets from an infected individual.

Nevertheless, in light of the benefits of regular physical activity to physical and mental health, it is important to remain active during the COVID-19 pandemic, while respecting physical distancing and personal hygiene recommendations. People should not exercise if they have symptoms of COVID-19 such as a cough, fever or difficulty breathing.

COVID-19 and postal packages

1. What is the risk of getting COVID-19 from packages delivered through the postal system?

Experiments (e.g. in controlled relative humidity and temperature) have shown that the virus causing COVID-19 can survive up to 24 hours on cardboard. However, these findings do not relate directly to real-life conditions. In practice, there is no evidence of COVID-19 transmission through contaminated packages. It is nevertheless recommended that you should wash your hands rigorously and frequently after having touched various surfaces and this includes packages.

2. Are people working in the supply chain including logistics, control services, retail, etc. at risk of contracting COVID-19 by handling packages? What measures can be taken to reduce the risk of getting infected in this type of work setting?

People working in the supply chain, including logistics, control services, retail, etc. are not at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 as a result of managing packages than those exposed in other settings. Exposure of these employees is most probably connected to their close contact with many people while delivering packaging or serving at post offices, in addition to having frequent contact with colleagues (sharing office space, canteen or transportation).

Publication

COVID-19 clusters and outbreaks in occupational settings in the EU/EEA and the UK

Technical report -

ECDC does not recommend any special measures for the supply chain other than those directed towards the general public: frequent and thorough hand-washing and the use of alcohol-based hand disinfectants, keeping a distance from other employees, and not working if experiencing respiratory symptoms.

3. Are couriers at risk of contracting COVID-19 by handling packages? What measures can be taken to reduce the risk of getting infected in this type of work setting?

People working as couriers are not at greater risk of contracting COVID-19 as a result of managing packages. Couriers delivering packages to homes are advised to keep a distance from the customer (at least two metres) and to use alcohol-based hand disinfectant frequently (and always before and after contact with a customer). Courier companies should allow their employees to take time off work if they show signs of respiratory symptoms.

COVID-19 and food

1. What is the risk of COVID-19 infection from food  products?

The main route of transmission of coronaviruses in humans is through inhalation of respiratory droplets. There have been no reports in Europe of transmission of COVID-19 via consumption of food or the handling of food and food packaging. The risk of infection via this route is therefore considered very low, although it cannot be completely excluded. Nevertheless, basic hygienic precautions should be applied to prevent food-related infections, including washing hands after the handling of packages and before preparing and consuming food.

COVID-19 and animals

1. What is the risk of COVID-19 infection from animals or animal products imported from affected areas?

There is no evidence that any of the animals or animal products authorised for entry into the European Union pose a risk to the health of EU citizens as a result of the presence of COVID-19.

2. What is the risk of COVID-19 infection from contact with pets and other animals in the EU?

Current research links COVID-19 to certain types of bat as the original source, but does not exclude the involvement of other animals as intermediate links. Several types of coronavirus can infect animals and be transmitted to other animals and humans.

The role played by pets and farm animals in the epidemiology and transmission of COVID-19 is currently unknown.

The risk of pets living in affected households being infected with SARS-CoV-2 has been documented, with a number of animals testing positive for the virus. Dogs and cats have both been reported as having become infected by their owners, and some other animals (e.g. ferrets and hamsters) can become infected. However, current evidence indicates that it is very unlikely that household pets play any role in spreading the virus. Outbreaks in small farmed animals (minks) have also been documented in Europe (the Netherlands, Denmark, Spain) and throughout the world (United States), as well as among workers at affected farms. Virus RNA has been detected in dust particles at mink farms, which indicates that people at farms with infected minks can be exposed to coronavirus.

Other farm animals do not seem to be affected by SARS-CoV-2.

As a general precaution, it is always wise to observe basic principles of hygiene such as frequent hand-washing when in contact with animals.

COVID-19 and cash

1. What is the risk of getting COVID-19 from coins and banknotes?

Like all objects, coins and banknotes can potentially be contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 through respiratory droplets from an infectious person.

There is currently no evidence either to confirm or rule out SARS-CoV-2 transmission via coins or banknotes. As with doorknobs and handrails in public places, coins and banknotes are touched by large numbers of people.

With regard to banknotes, the European Central Bank reports that “coronaviruses can survive more easily on a stainless steel surface (e.g. door handles) than on our cotton banknotes, with survival rates approximately 10 to 100 times higher in the first few hours after contamination. Other analyses indicate that it is much more difficult for a virus to be transferred from porous surfaces such as cotton banknotes than from smooth surfaces like plastic”.

ECDC recommends frequent hand-washing with soap and water or the use of alcohol-based hand sanitisers and avoiding touching the face, eyes and mouth after physical contact with frequently-touched objects, including banknotes and coins.