Flights: Why you should clean your passport amid coronavirus pandemic – tips

Flights: Research shows that your passport could be a veritable smorgasbord of nasties (Image: Getty Images)

Coronavirus has left everyone nervous about germs and handwashing has never been more discussed. However, it turns out that it’s not just your hands that should be cleaned when travelling. Research shows that your passport could be a veritable smorgasbord of nasties.

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A recent report by the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) shed some light on this.

Findings showed that the COVID-19 virus could still be detected on plastic surfaces (such as passport covers) up to three days after the initial contamination.

With this in mind, cast your mind to how many people have handled your passport as you’ve handed it over to be checked while travelling…

So should you be disinfecting your passport when you travel to prevent catching anything unpleasant?

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Flights: One expert advised wiping the travel document down with wipes of over 60 percent alcohol (Image: Getty Images)

One expert advised wiping the travel document down with wipes of over 60 percent alcohol.

Erin Sorrell, Assistant Research Professor in the Department of Microbiology and Immunology at Georgetown University told Afar magazine: “In general, viruses—and not just the coronavirus—can survive longer on nonporous, water-resistant surfaces like plastic and steel.

“Many passport covers are made from plastic and those surfaces should be cleaned regularly.

“Using a disinfectant wipe that is over 60 percent alcohol is a good method.”

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However, travellers should be careful not to damage or smudge any airport stickers they may need while cleaning their passport.

Passport covers to go over the passport could help worried travellers.

A sheath can protect the passport itself from germs and comes with no risks when cleaning.

Furthermore, other materials such as leather and fabric are porous.

This makes them less hospitable for viruses so they won’t survive as long.

Flights: Be careful not to damage or smudge any airport stickers while wiping the passport (Image: Getty Images)

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However, these covers should still be cleaned every now and again to still be on the safe side.

Travel health experts at Vaxxy Travel shared their top tips with for saying safe and clean while travelling.

“Before your travel, organise an inflight bag of essentials to ensure you can remain clean whilst on the flight,” said Parvinder Sagoo, Pharmacist and Clinical Advisor at Vaxxy Travel.

“Things like anti-bac hand wipes, spray, hand sanitiser, facial wipes, anti-bacterial hand cream and face cream and any other items that will keep your immediate area safe.

“Once you get on the plane, wipe down your armrests, tray table and window shutter with one of the wipes to ensure any germs are removed.

“Ensure you do not share any food with anyone on your flight, and when it comes to the in-flight meals make sure you wipe down any areas of plastic that you will be touching.

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“Ensuring you take regular trips to the bathroom to wash your hands thoroughly in between hand sanitiser is advised to keep hands clean.

“If you do go to the bathroom, it might be an idea to take your anti-bac wipes with you so you can wipe down the areas that you will be in contact before and after for the next person.”

A study by last year showed a tray table had 11.595 germ colony-forming units (CFUs), making it the second dirtiest commonly used area of the plane after the flush button on the toilet seat.

If your plane seat is leather you can wipe that down with disinfectant.

However, this cannot be done with upholstered seats. Germaphobes could bring a washable and removable seat cover onboard if they wish to be extra careful.

Tray table and headsets covers are also available for purchase.