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Medical professionals are concerned about vacation rental safety.

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Health professionals are concerned with vacation rental safety and COVID-19

Many Canadians are reconsidering their travel plans and considering making last-minute bookings as domestic travel opens up in Canada.

How safe are overnight accommodations? Here Colin Furness (epidemicologist, assistant professor of infection control, University of Toronto) and Dasantila Kotra (microbiologist, associate professor at York University), share their best practices and advice.

What questions should I ask my host/hotel in advance?

Furness suggests asking the host for details about how long they have been empty before you arrive at a cottage or vacation rental. He states that the new coronavirus has never infected the area for longer than three days. He says that if the answer is three days you are golden.

Furness states that someone should be there within an hour of you arriving (e.g. Furness says that while guidelines recommend waiting three hours, he thinks airborne droplets could settle faster.

It is possible that you won’t be able to determine how long the room has been empty since check-in. Golemi Kotra says it is helpful to check the cleaning logs and current employee screening procedures before checking in. For example, in hotels, you could be exposed to infectious air droplets from someone cleaning your rooms. Golemi Kotra says that there is no risk of getting infected from touching contaminated surfaces. Droplet infection poses a greater risk than droplet infections.

What about disinfection?

Droplet inhalation tends to have a higher viral load for the novel coronavirus. Furness points out that droplet inhalation is the primary method of getting sick, while touch is the second. Droplets can remain on surfaces for long periods of time but are only found in the air for a short time. This means that although it’s less likely to happen, you can still get sick if you touch infected surfaces or touch your face.

Furness points out that half-life is not possible [of the virus]It takes several hours to work on soft surfaces. He believes we don’t need to worry about cleaning bedding or furniture in hotels or rentals. “On soft, porous surfaces like fabrics, it starts to decompose quickly and it just doesn’t last long.

If you’re in a location that has been occupied in the past three days, he recommends using disinfectant wipes upon arrival to focus on cleaning hard (metal or plastic) surfaces that “have normal touching surfaces.” people’s hands were straight and your hands will go “- such as doorknobs, light and lamp switches, cabinet handles, faucets, remote controls, and toilet flushers.

What can I do to make my stay safer?

If you are booking a stay through a site like Airbnb that also offers shared apartments, Golemi-Kotra recommends choosing an accommodation where you have reserved all of the space if possible. “That way you don’t have to worry about the others [who] may have a different lifestyle than yours or have different views about the disease, “she says.

Overall, cottages can be a great vacation choice for this summer. “With a cottage, you rented all of the premises. You have no housekeeping. You have no elevators, hallways, and common areas. You have a lot of control,” says Furness. “Houses usually have no air conditioning, and that is also protective … the virus breaks down and becomes inactive more quickly [in hot, humid weather]. “

If you live in commercial property, Furness suggests mitigating the risk by asking for a room on a lower floor if you can use the stairs so you can avoid using the elevator. “You are a small airspace – even if you are the only one in it, there is [high] Touch surfaces and there may still be droplets [in the air]He explains. “Stairwells are better because you walk past people instead of standing around with them.”Use an elevator? Apply hand sanitizer to the buttons.

Furness suggests that you avoid daily housekeeping or turndown services in order to ensure that your room is clean and tidy during your stay.

Truc Nguyen, a Toronto-based writer and editor, is a stylist. Follow her @trucnguyen

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