LOVED-UP Brits should avoid picking up Valentine's Day cards in shops as they could be riddled with coronavirus, experts have warned.
The deadly bug can live on the plastic coverings for up to three days – meaning a romantic message could now be at risk of becoming a Covid "super-spreader".
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Earlier this month, Boris Johnson warned shoppers that the deadly bug can be spread through handling goods – with experts warning the greeting cards were particularly dangerous as shoppers often pick up and put down the products as they browse.
Dr Richard Hastings, an expert on biocides and Healthcare Regulatory & Technical Manager for Hycolin, said that the public should be wary of browsing the cards section.
He told The Sun Online: “Supermarkets pose a certain risk when it comes to the spread of infection.
"Surfaces can hold potentially harmful pathogens for long periods of time, which can in turn lead to infection.
"Valentine’s Day is fast approaching, and with greeting cards being one of the most frequently handled items in supermarkets, we must be careful when it comes to selecting our choices.
"People tend to browse the vast card selections, and this could increase the risk of infection unless people are vigilant.
"After all, if multiple people handle multiple cards it is likely that the surfaces will be contaminated with pathogens, potentially Covid-19. The same goes for all items in a supermarket.
"To mitigate this risk, it is best to avoid picking up cards and putting them back entirely."
He also said you may want to disinfect the plastic coverings on cards before sending them on to your sweethearts.
Abbas Kanani, a pharmacist at Chemist Click, said that shops have a responsibility to make sure card aisles don't get too congested around holiday periods.
He added: "Picking up items to look at them is a human habit, and almost natural.
"Covid-19 has also been shown to live on plastic, cardboard and paper for 24 to 72 hours.
"It will be difficult to encourage people not to touch cards, however, there should be an extra emphasis on sanitising with alcohol hand gel before and after looking at cards."
One merchandiser, who has been providing greeting cards to supermarkets for nearly four years, believes cards are a virus "super-spreader."
They told The Sun Online: "People have got to think about what's essential and what's not.
"I know it sounds miserable, but seasons like Valentine's Day are so unessential in these dark times we're in.
"When people go into shops for a loaf of bread or a tin of beans, they pick it up and walk away.
"But when you go to buy a greetings card, you don't just buy the first one you pick up. You pick up five or six, and you put them back.
"Not only are people touching all the cards, but they're putting them back in the wrong places.
"And coronavirus lingers on surfaces, we know that.
"To me, cards have got to be some sort of super-spreader."
Despite the risk of coronavirus spreading through surfaces, the worker said the shops don't have any signs warning people to not touch what aren't buying.
They also said that once people enter, shoppers are "climbing all over each other," flouting social distancing rules.
The merchandiser also questioned why independent card shops are forced to shut during the lockdown, when big retailers can sell cards – adding that it's "just nonsensical."
Shoppers are already asked to stand at least one metre apart to help stop the spread of coronavirus, while stores are also limiting the number of people allowed inside at one time.
According to Government guidelines, it is “especially important to wash hands before handling food or eating”.
It goes on to add: “When you are buying loose foods such as fruit, vegetables, or bread in a bakery, try and only touch what you are going to buy.”
But the guidelines say you’re unlikely to catch coronavirus from food or packaging.
Some supermarket chains, like Asda, previously introduced "no touch" rules where customers were asked not to pick up items they’re not buying.
But other grocers like Tesco and Sainsbury's have not put similar enforcements in place.
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