This article was updated on September 24, 2021
Recently, The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released a risk assessment in response to shutdown easing initiatives in the US.
Although the data had some limitations, the organization is confident that indoor dining yields positive associations with COVID-19 incidence.
A study published in the journal of Emerging Infectious Disease examines the parameters more directly.
According to the research, sharing dishes and cups with others nearly triples one’s risk for contracting COVID-19. Moreover, SARS-CoV-2 transmission is much higher within households compared to workplaces and hospitality establishments.
The researchers included instructions for carriers who are currently occupying a living space with uninfected housemates:
“The sick person should stay in a specific room; use a separate bathroom, if possible; and not share dishes, cups, and other utensils.”
In order to gauge the depth of dining risks, the researchers reviewed 211 coronavirus cases and 839 control subjects located in Thailand; a country celebrated for its rigid contact tracing measures.
People involved in the new report who share dishes or cups with others were 2.71 times more likely to contract COVID-19, while those who share cigarettes increase their risk for contracting the devastating respiratory disease by 6.12.
Even if social distancing is being employed, health officials advise all populations to wear face masks while traveling, to wash their hands thoroughly when entering a location, and avoid touching the eyes and mouth.
This is particularly important while attending the dining establishments. Even if you believe you know the health status of your party, avoid sharing cigarettes, dishes, cups, and utensils.
“Evaluation of the effectiveness of mask-wearing to protect healthy persons in the general public from infection with severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), the causative agent of coronavirus disease (COVID-19), is urgently needed. On February 27, 2020, during the early stages of the COVID-19 outbreak, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that wearing a mask of any type was not recommended for asymptomatic persons,” the authors wrote in the new report. “Thailand uses Surveillance and Rapid Response Teams (SRRTs), together with village health volunteers, to conduct contact tracing, educate the public about COVID-19, and monitor close contacts of persons with COVID-19 in quarantine.”
Use of personal protective measures and risk for severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 Infection
These conclusions were in part premised by contact tracing initiatives ordered by Thailand’s health ministry’s permanent secretary, Sukhum Kanchanapimai.
The researchers paired these reports with extensive surveillance tactics employed back in April.
“We telephoned contacts during April 30–May 27, 2020, and asked details about their contact with a COVID-19 index patient, such as dates, locations, duration, and distance of contact. We asked whether contacts wore a mask during the contact with the index patient, the type of mask, and the frequency of wearing a mask, which we defined as compliance with mask-wearing. We asked whether and how frequently contacts washed their hands while with the index patient. We asked whether contacts performed social distancing and whether they had physical contact with the COVID-19 index patient,” the authors wrote of their methodology.
“If they did not know, or could not remember, contact with the index patient, we asked whether they had contact with other persons at the location. We asked whether the contact shared a cup or a cigarette with other persons in the place they had contact or had highest risk for contact with the index patient and whether the COVID-19 index patient, if known to the respondent, had worn a mask (Appendix, Additional Methods). We also asked, and verified by using DDC records, whether and when the contacts had symptoms and when COVID-19 was diagnosed.”
In March, 13 people tested positive for COVID-19 after sharing cigarettes and drinks with one another.
In July, 11 people who attended a going-away party contracted the novel coronavirus after sharing an alcoholic beverage.
“There was inappropriate behavior, sharing drinks, cigarettes, and not avoiding social activities after returning from an at-risk country,” Kanchanapimai wrote in a release. “Don’t share cigarettes and drinks.”