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One week into the Modified Enhanced Community Quarantine lockdown imposed on Metro Manila and adjoining provinces, we are still nowhere near to lessening the daily confirmed COVID-19 case rates as reported by the Department of Health.

Granted it will take about four weeks before this exercise actually makes an impact, it surely doesn’t help if we keep going out to do anything other than essential travel. You see, every time we step out of our houses, we have the potential of bringing back the virus and possibly infecting our families. Or worse, if you are infected and you don’t already know it, you can become a spreader and put your friends, even the bank security guard, the grocery cashier or the mall parking attendant at risk of being infected with COVID-19.

So, what happens now? Do we just stay home and isolate from society? Well, in an ideal world, yes. That would be the most effective way to curb the virus’ spread. But, we don’t live in such a utopian world. We still need to drive, ride, or even walk to work to earn money to feed our families, pay the rent, settle the bills, and yes, to basically stay alive.

For our front-liners,  the reality is they have to go to work and still ensure that they arrive home free from exposure to the novel coronavirus. For many of them, sanitizing their vehicles is key to continue with their duties to society and the economy.

We asked some of those who drive out to work, even during MECQ, to see how they are keeping their rides, and ultimately their households, safe during this pandemic. These are practices you can adopt to ensure your vehicles do not become carriers of the virus.  

Preparation is the key

“We use the highest-level PPEs to handle Covid-19 patients for intubation, obstetrics and surgery. We bathe and wear fresh clothes before leaving the hospital. We sanitize our masks, eyewear, phones, and other personal belongings (keys, wallet, license holder, bag). Some use UV boxes after washing with soap and water and various antimicrobials and antiseptics.

I gargle after work. And I like to use Hypochlorous acid, a powerful oxidant generated by running electricity through a solution of saltwater, with a nano mister to disinfect my shoes, clothes, and car interior.

I also bring disposable hospital booties to cover footwear worn in the hospital so that the driving shoes keep my Miata and its accelerator sterile.

Finally, to provide fresh air for the interior, I drive with the top down. This practice prevents microbes from entering the air conditioning system as well. I use Level 1 masks whenever I do this.

Because of the current health crisis, I believe that we should always be safe and we should never stop fighting!”

–          Dr. Ricardo F. De Castro, Anesthesiologist

For the love of the car

“I am the obsessive-compulsive type and disinfecting the vehicle I use when I go out is always a task as you can never be too sure of what you’re taking with you inside the car. I used to do these things once a week at most, but now I make sure I disinfect my vehicle after each trip out.

Upon arriving home I take out the matting, vacuum as needed, then spray a 10% bleach solution on the matting surface and leave it to dry overnight or under direct sunlight. I vacuum the interior carpets, seats, and sidings at least once a week depending on the accumulation of dirt.

I spray isopropyl alcohol on a damp microfiber cloth then wipe on the inner door grab handles, switches and knobs, the stereo panel, handbrake handle, shifter, and the steering wheel. Anything that comes into contact with my hands, I wipe. I wash and rinse the wiping cloth and do a second alcohol wipe on the shift knob, handbrake handle, and steering wheel – for good measure! Then I use the same damp MF cloth with alcohol to rub on the external door handles.

Always use a damp cloth with two or three actuations of alcohol for each part rubbed. Too much alcohol might whiten the interior trims.

I use a damp terry cloth sprayed with 10% bleach solution to wipe on the doorstep sills, front kick panels, and the driver’s pedals.

I spray Lysol disinfectant spray in the interior and sparingly towards the direction of the carpet floors and leave the doors open for 10-15 minutes. Same goes with the rear trunk/tonneau area.

On a sunny day, I leave the car with the doors open on the exposed part of the garage for thirty minutes.

Of course, a thorough exterior car wash is always a good idea.

And I also place coins and paper money in one central container inside the car and this container is taken out and disinfected via UV light or direct sunlight whenever the car is parked home.” 

–          Veegee Cabugao, government consultant

Clean as you go

“First we sanitize all cars entering the workshop with sprayer and Ecolab Oasis Compaq 22 Multi-Quat Sanitizer. Once the service work is done, we again sanitize the cars with the same procedure. We also have the cars washed prior to turnover to the customer.

We also offer to our customers an anti-bac service for their car’s interiors. We use Germany-sourced agents designed for air conditioning cleaning and a fog machine. This has been especially developed for the quick and uncomplicated disinfection of bacteria, fungi, and molds inside the car.

These practices also ensure our workshop technicians and customers are both safe.”

–          Francis Basa Casim,  service manager, Suzuki

Have you been diligent in sanitizing your car? Just remember, while all these take a bit of effort, an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. Doing your bit to keep you and your passengers safe inside your car can go a long way in helping us cope with this health crisis. 

Again, if you do not have anything essential to do outdoors, just stay home and save lives.