Social media is awash with “fake news” about the causes and cures for COVID-19, and the latest target appears to be petrol pumps, with posts doing the rounds that claim that petrol pumps have been found to be a point of contagion. But experts are clear that this is a hoax and that petrol pumps have not been found to be a source of contagion in any case. The hoax seems to have started in England, where Public Health officials have slammed it as fake.  A Public Health England spokesperson has come out clearly stating that “petrol pumps are no worse than other surfaces, although we do recommend people wash their hands after using them”.

“In the face of uncertainty and fear it is important that the facts are made clear and that businesses combat hoaxes like these head on.  ACAPMA has provided advice and resources to fuel retailers, including posters for customers and staff about keeping safe from the virus onsite, which includes a focus on handwashing and using sanitiser, where it is available, after filling.  This advice has been circulating clearly for weeks now and has not changed in the face of these hoax messages” explained Executive Manager for Employment and Training for ACAPMA Elisha Radwanowski.

“The rapid spread of this hoax is a clear indication that customers are not getting the message, so it is time that we step up our efforts as an industry to bring calm and facts back into the conversation” continued Elisha.

“ACAPMA encourages all members to share the clear and simple advice from the Department of Health that all people should, after touching any hard surface, avoid touching their face and wash their hands as soon as possible.  Where handwashing is not possible, hand sanitiser should be used as a back up” explained Elisha.

“ACAPMA acknowledges that where retail fuel sites have been able to access hand sanitiser they have been providing it for their customers, however, supplies can be hard to find, but sites have handwashing facilities and customers can utilise these after coming into contact with any hard high-touch surfaces“ continued Mrs Radwanowski.

“ACAPMA has published resources, including customer facing posters outlining the presence of handwashing facilities (and where available hand sanitiser).  These posters are available in a variety of combinations depending on the layouts and resources offered at site.”

ACAPMA is maintaining two consolidated articles covering COVID-19;

“The reality is that a petrol pump is no more likely to hold the virus than any other surface that people come into contact with every day, like ATMs, coffee machines, public transport handholds, trolly handles or door handles, and as an industry we are stepping up our cleaning and sanitising of all of these high-touch areas, and providing resources for customers, like information, gloves, paper towels, handwashing facilities and sanitisers wherever we can get supplies.  Hoaxes like this one cause unnecessary fear and are not helpful in any way.”

For more on the hoax and its debunking see; https://www.snopes.com/fact-check/covid19-gas-pump-handles/, https://www.mirror.co.uk/news/uk-news/coronavirus-claims-covid-19-spreading-21734145