Last week I reached the limit on the number of times I could use the wireless contact feature on my debit card. This got me thinking about how technology can help keep you safer from the Coronavirus.
I am not medically trained and I am providing and sharing information based on what I find, please do not solely rely on this but use it as tips for further research.
A quick overview of the Coronavirus
Currently, we do not know exactly how the coronavirus spreads. However, we do know how other similar viruses spread and that is via droplets in the air. These droplets can be coughed or sneezed into the air you breathe which is why there is currently a two-metre distancing rule.
The advice at the time of writing is that people should cough or sneeze into a tissue. But anyone who has ever coughed or sneezed will know that is not always a planned event. You will put your hands up, you will cough into the air, and if you have the virus there is a chance it will be on your hands and transmitted to items that others could touch.
According to Dr Jenny Harries, the coronavirus can survive on soft surfaces for 24 hours, and hard ones for 48 hours. As a result, I think you should do these things as much as possible.
- Keep a minimum distance of 2 metres apart.
- Avoid touching things that you do not need to touch. Handrails, door handles, shopping basket handles, surfaces.
- Keep your hands as clean as possible, wash before going out, use hand sanitizer when out, and wash as soon as you get home.
- Avoid touching personal items when out as much as possible to avoid contamination.
- Do not touch your face whilst out.
- If you are fortunate to have protective masks, wear them.
More information and videos from the world health organization can be found here. Since this page was published there is speculation that the social distancing of 2 metres is not enough, see links below.
Can technology help keep you safe from the Coronavirus – Debit cards
Debit cards are obviously safer than paying cash but you should avoid touching a debit card machine. It has been touched thousands of times and I am dubious about how often these are cleaned. If you have to touch one then use hand sanitizer immediately after use or wear protective gloves.
If you are using a wireless contact card then note that you do not have to touch the device with it, it can read your card from 10cm distance.
You might be surprised to know that the limit on contactless payments can be as low as 5 consecutive payments. The sixth contactless payment will either ask for your pin or show as declined. Your card could also stop working if consecutive transactions exceed £135 according to Laura Shannon from This is Money.
If your card is declined then this puts you in danger because you are face to face at a distance of less than 2-metre for a period of time. It also means that you will have to either touch the card reader, pay with cash or abandon the purchase.
There is a solution to the coronavirus wireless debit card risk
I asked a major bank and Laura from First Direct advised the following
‘Hi, Chris. We can’t change the fraud measure on Contactless payments, but could you add your card to Apple, Android or Samsung Pay if you have the facility? These services use biometrics to make the payment, the limit isn’t the same when making payment this way. -Laura’
This is a great idea, because if your mobile supports this feature then you are only entering information on your own device which is much safer. Also, there are no limits because you are either entering a pin, face recognition or fingerprint technology.
Please note, that if you are touching anything outside your home and then touching your phone that you should avoid putting it against your head until it has been cleaned.
Can technology help keep you safe from the Coronavirus – Touch screen displays
Sadly we are temporarily at a moment in time where not being face to face with a checkout staff is safer for us and for them, but how safe are the touch screen displays that we see everywhere?
The coronavirus or covid-19 is a new virus and because of this little is known about it or how it spreads from one person to another. Which implies we should be over cautious. This virus can cause a cough and it is highly likely that it will spread via cough droplets in the air either onto the hands of the infected person or directly onto the screens. For this reason, touch screen displays should be treated as having been contaminated and logical precautions should be followed, such as,
- Using a hand sanitizer before and after use.
- Washing hands before and after use.
- Writing to your local stores and asking them to regularly clean the screens.
- Wear gloves if the screen allows
- Use touch-sensitive pens these are cheap to buy
Remember to clean anything you touch.
Can technology help keep you safe from the Coronavirus – Mobile phones
I am fortunate enough to have purchased the iPhone X a few years ago, which is waterproof. I never thought this would be useful until now. It is important to be aware that your phone is a potential risk to you.
- If I have touched anything else outside I do not put the phone to my face.
- If I have to talk and walk then I use headphones.
- I wash my phone but if your phone is not waterproof then follow the manufactures advice on how to clean your phone. There are antibacterial screen wipes made that are designed for this purpose.
- Most mobile phones will continue to work from inside a sealable sandwich bag. This will let you dispose of the sandwich bag and not have to wash the phone.
- Use touch-sensitive pens these are cheap to buy
Once authorized mobile phones can be used for is locating friends, family members or neighbours. I have added my immediate family to the ‘Find My’ app on my Apple phone. This provides peace of mind when you are worrying and should for any reason the family member be taken to a hospital you know which hospital that they are taken to. Sadly currently you can only add people who have the same manufacturer but there may be apps that work across devices.
Can technology help you to Communicate during the Coronavirus
At a time where visiting your nearest and dearest is not safe, that does not mean that you have to avoid talking to them via technology. There are a number of social communication platforms that you can use to connect, such as:
- Whatsapp – Works across mobile manufacturers and computers. It allows you to share text, photos, video, voice, links etc. Individual or group chats.
- Telegram – Works across mobile manufacturers and computers. It allows you to share text, photos, video, voice, links, etc. Individual or group chats.
- Twitter groups – Works across mobile manufacturers and computers. It allows you to share text, photos, links, etc. Individual or group chats. Twitter also allows you to communicate with people you do not know on the main feed.
- Discord – If you have really large groups then Discord might be the answer. Works across mobile manufacturers and computers. It allows you to share text, photos, video, voice, links, etc. Individual or group chats. It also allows you to set up channels within the software and is searchable. So you can easily find information on a topic.
- Facebook – This is one of the largest social sites out there and allows communication in a variety of forms and functions
- Face time – Apple phone video communication.
- Text message and telephone: Sometimes it is easy to forget the most simple communication methods are often the best.
- Finally, you can communicate here, in the comments below. I am monitoring these and happy to talk to anyone about anything. Also happy to exchange email addresses and talk offline for those that would like.
Create groups for your family, friends, etc. But also consider creating groups for your building, street, area. Invite neighbours to join, some elderly people might have zero human interaction so let us get them connected. Consider posting group information in communal areas and asking people to not touch but photograph it. If you are working from home maybe start an unofficial work colleague group.
Although virtual communication is good, please remember to be safe online too. Monitor children and advise those new not to give out payment information, etc.
What to do with quarantine boredom?
Being quarantined to your home can be frustrating. Eventually, you will have cleaned everywhere in your house and exhausted your hobbies, books, games etc. But don’t forget we live in a digital age and there is a whole world of fun websites out there to look at.
I have compiled a list of 58 fun and amazing websites to kick start your search – which you can see by clicking here.
Additional links to further information
Please be sure to check official sites for more information.
- NHS health advice
- World health organization
- Cases in your area
- Newspaper report advising that the 2 metres social distancing rule might not be enough.
- Things to do
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