Collecting items from someone who is (potentially) infected
Items (such as cash) must not be removed from a household where someone may be infected unless there is absolutely no alternative. In this case, it is essential that you take steps to avoid spreading the virus further.
The main protocol covers situations where people in the household have not been able to prepare for the collection (e.g. because they were ill, or because they didn't have access to these instructions). The second protocol gives some additional safety measures which can be carried out by members of the household in advance.
The person collecting the items should not enter the house at any point during this process, to prevent the virus from being spread out of the house (on shoes etc). People in self-isolation should be aware that anyone who attempts to gain entry is not acting according to protocol.
If a self-isolating person can't prepare in advance
- Bring two disposable bags with you. They don’t need to be disinfected.
- On arrival at the person’s home, phone and ask them to open the door
- Ask them to wash their hands first, if possible.
- If they have masks available, they should put one on before washing their hands
- You should remain at least two metres away from the door.
- If you have disposable gloves, put them on now.
- Ask the person to back away two metres inside the house.
- Place one bag inside the other and put the double-bag immediately outside the door, so that the person can reach it from inside.
- Fold the outer bag down to expose the mouth of the inner bag, then back away two metres
- Ask the person to place the items in the inner bag.
- They should do this as quickly as possible, and not talk while doing it.
- If receiving cash, ask them to give you only £5/£10 notes or coins if possible, rather than a £20 note. All £5 and £10 notes in circulation are washable polymer, but some paper £20 notes are still in use.
- When they have placed the items in the bag, ask them to step back inside at least two metres.
- Without touching the inner bag, pull up the outer bag to enclose it, so that you can carry the bag without touching anything they touched.
- Take your gloves off, without touching the exterior of the glove with your bare skin, so that they turn inside out to enclose the potentially-contaminated surface. Place them in an empty plastic bag until you can dispose of them
- Wash your hands with hand sanitiser for more than 20 seconds if possible.
- Wash your hands as soon as you return home.
- If possible, leave the bag for 72 hours before opening it.
- If there are any items that cannot be disinfected (e.g. paper) they must either be left in the sealed bag for a minimum of 72 hours, or set aside on a disinfected surface before use.
- Disinfect the items you collected, and disinfect or safely dispose of the bags you used.
If a self-isolating person can prepare in advance
It is always safest to disinfect items after collection from an infected household, even if members of the household have the capacity to do this in advance, to avoid any risk that the items may have become re-infected at some point during handling.
However, members of the household can take any or all of the following measures to further reduce the risk.
- Before the collection, disinfect the items. Place them in a new or disinfected plastic bag, then place this inside another new or disinfected bag.
- Set non-washable items such as paper aside on a disinfected surface for at least 24 hours. With freshly washed hands, place them inside a new or disinfected plastic bag, then place this inside another new or disinfected bag.
- Shortly before the collection time, disinfect the door handle and anything else that you will touch when opening the door.
- Both the quarantined person and the person collecting the item(s) should put on masks (if supplies permit) or tightly-woven cotton face coverings.
- Place the double-bagged items by the doorway and fold the outer bag down to expose the inner bag, without touching the inner bag.
- Wash your hands immediately before opening the door.
- When the person collecting has placed their bag by the door, pick up your inner bag of items with freshly washed hands and transfer it to the collection bag.
- Do this as quickly as possible, and don’t talk while doing it.
(Current research suggests that the virus can survive on surfaces such as cardboard for up to 24 hours; however, it can survive on plastic for up to 72 hours. We therefore advise that cardboard/paper items should either be left in a sealed environment for a minimum of 72 hours before handling, in case of any contamination from surrounding surfaces, or set aside for at least 24 hours on a surface such as a windowsill which has been disinfected.)