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22 March 2020, 11:43
WhatsApp and Twitter posts claiming the deadly virus is being contracted specifically at fuel stations are fake, says Public Health England.
Worrying claims that coronavirus is being spread “rapidly via petrol pumps” have been revealed as false.
A string of hoax Twitter and WhatsApp messages, reportedly coming from NHS nurses, warned social media users that the killer virus was being contracted at fuel stations at a terrifying rate.
But Public Health England has stepped in to dispel the myth, confirming that petrol pumps are to be treated like any other surface harbouring potentially dangerous germs.
A spokesperson said: "Petrol pumps are no worse than other surfaces, although we do recommend people use gloves and wash their hands after using them."
The fake posts outlined advice allegedly given by medical staff to protect the public against the deadly bug while filling up cars with fuel.
One message, which warned drivers to be extra vigilant, read: "A senior nurse at the Queen Elizabeth believes the virus is spreading rapidly through people using petrol pumps.
"She asks that if you need to fill your car up use gloves or a paper towel and then bin them. Please pass this on."
Responding to the circulating rumours, the Irish Petroleum Industry Association released a statement which outlined new guidelines for drivers needing to get petrol or diesel in the near future.
"We wanted to inform customers that pump handles are no more or less prone to the spread of infection than any other hard surface and to outline the significant steps we are taking to combat the spread of Covid-19 and keep our valued customers safe.
“We are following all advice from the HSE and relevant authorities and would ask our valued customers to do the same."
The IPIA continued: "Please wash or sanitise your hands before and after using fuel pumps and/or wear gloves.
“Wherever possible our members are providing hand sanitiser as well as gloves and paper towels for use at the fuel pumps and we respectfully ask all customers to use only what they need and to leave supplies for others.”
It is thought Covid-19 can linger on plastic and stainless steel for up to 72 hours.