Aside from staying at home, and trying not to mix with others, the best thing we can do to beat the coronavirus pandemic is to keep clean. Obviously, that means washing our hands regularly, but it also means keeping the surfaces in our cars, which we regularly touch, clean and germ-free.
Skoda is offering some helpful hints and tips when it comes to this, and has drafted in Jana Parmová, the car maker's chief medical officer, to provide some advice.
Ideally, stay home, but if you can't; clean your car
"Ideally don't go anywhere. If you have to go somewhere, go alone - don't share the car with anyone. If you have to go with someone, make sure that the person does not have acute symptoms of respiratory illness. Use a respirator or at least a facemask. Make sure you have the contact details of all the other passengers so that you can track them down if you find out you're infected" says Dr. Parmová.
While your car can, in many ways, be something of a mobile isolation unit which allows you to travel around without being in contact with others, it's also critical that commonly-touched surfaces are regularly cleaned to keep them from becoming disease vectors.
The main touch points in the car include the steering wheel, gearstick, handbrake, door handles, radio and infotainment controls, stalks on the steering column (indicators and windscreen wipers, cruise control), elbow rests, seat position controls, door frames and exterior door handles or luggage compartment handle. It's especially important for any taxi drivers, or other public service vehicle drivers, to do this regularly.
70 per cent alcohol solution
The best thing to use is the same alcohol rub that you use to disinfect your own hands, and a 70 per cent solution of isopropyl alcohol will be both effective against the Coronavirus, and won't do the interior surfaces of your car any damage. You can also use the same solution to wipe down seats and fabric, but don't soak the fabric with liquid as that can be counter-productive.
If you've got leather to clean, the alcohol is still fine to use, but don't scrub, and use a leather treatment when you're done.
Use the same alcohol solution for the exterior door handles etc, but don't use hydrogen peroxide bleach, as this can damage the paint work. And don't use an ammonium solution on interior touchscreens.
If you have to have any passengers in the car (other than those people who already live in your house, obviously) then it's best to wear facemasks. If you haven't got any in the house, or can't find any in the shops, check your car's on-board first-aid kit - they often contain a face mask.
Clean your air conditioning vents
It's a good idea too to open your windows and let the car air out a bit when possible (away from crowded areas of course). When it comes to your air conditioning system, there are sprays which are available from garages and motor factors which can be sprayed into vents to help keep things germ-free. It would be a good idea to have your air conditioning system properly serviced, but probably not right now, at the peak of social-distancing. One for later on, perhaps.
There have also been reports that the virus can be spread through contact with petrol and diesel pumps, so make sure that you're either wearing gloves when you're filling up, or disinfecting your hands with a suitable wipe or hand gel before touching anything else. If you can, use contactless payments for your fuel.
And, of course, as soon as you get home, wash your hands.
Stay safe, everyone.