The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) in the US said there is a low chance of contracting COVID-19 from the surface of a gas pump. But it is not impossible as an infected person can leave it behind and research shows that the virus can survive on plastic for 72 hours and stainless steel for 48 hours.
To limit this from happening, health organisations have recommended practices customers should follow when using gas stations.
Guidelines that both the Trinidad & Tobago National Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (NP) and United Independent Petroleum Marketing Company Limited (UNIPET) have implemented since the start of the pandemic.
“What we have done from the start really is to educate ourselves in terms of what are the required protocols and then applied that information to our health and safety risk assessment,” UNIPET CEO Dexter Riley said.
Riley told Guardian Media that at all 26 of their service stations they implemented social distancing measures, sanitation stations, temperature checks upon entry into U-stores and disinfectant foggers to clean surfaces periodically throughout the day.
“We do have people on the ground, we have signage and enforcement through our staff as well apart from security,” he added.
Similar measures were implemented at NP service stations.
In a release sent on Tuesday, NP said it recently purchased and distributed an additional supply of disposable gloves and hand sanitiser to ALL Service Stations in Trinidad.
It said the NP Office in Tobago has also purchased supplies of gloves and hand sanitiser and will soon make them available to the Service Stations.
It also said that Forecourt Attendants are present at several stations so that customers do not have to interface with the pumps/dispensers directly.
But even with all the measures, getting people to follow them could sometimes be difficult.
Medical Practitioner and gas station customer Dr Sherene Kalloo said when she went to put fuel in her vehicle on Monday, she noticed that no one was adhering to the protocols or even using gloves.
“The other thing is people who were pumping their own gas they were doing it with their bare hands and not washing their hands afterwards,” she said.
She said people looked at her weird when she wore gloves and while the transmission is low from surface to surface it’s a risk people should not be taking.
“You have to have the foresight to be able to predict the possibilities and use protective measures,” she added.
But when Guardian Media visited service stations on Wrightson Road on Tuesday several people were seen adhering to the protocols.
One motorist from Diego Martin said while some people are negligent, some service stations are to blame as well.
“It have no sanitiser when you go to pump gas or gloves, so I does carry my own thing,” he said.
NP advised customers that if this happens to avoid touching pumps and immediately ask for assistance.
The company said apart from the signage, safety messaging will soon be installed on the hoses and pumps as an added layer of precaution.