Beware of false sense of security from COVID gadgets, say public health experts


TORONTO – Many Canadians rely on gadgets designed to help keep fingers away from high-contact surfaces, but the Toronto public health authority says people should be careful how they use them.

While devices that allow people to open doors, press elevator buttons, and hang on to bus or metro poles are being marketed as a way to limit exposure to COVID-19 , Toronto Public Health said such items are unnecessary and may present their own risks.

If you wash your hands or use hand sanitizer, cover your face with an elbow or tissue when you sneeze and use your arm to press buttons and open doors, not necessary, ”a spokesperson said. from the health authority, in an email.

“These devices themselves can also become another high contact surface and will need to be cleaned and disinfected often,” they added.

TPH’s warnings do not appear to have deterred buyers or contractors.

A quick search of e-commerce platforms reveals that dozens of Canadians manufacture and market such products and even more international companies ship them to customers within the country.

Troy Cosby, an employee of a machine shop in Ottawa, is the originator of one of the many gadgets available, but unlike others, he said he was addressing the public health concerns of Toronto.

Its LINC looks like a hook with two hinges attached to it and is available in aluminum, plastic and copper versions that can be used with touch screens or buttons and can open doors, although they have rounded buttons.

“We’ve gone the extra mile to make sure our tools are antimicrobial or have antimicrobial properties… to keep them cleaner,” Crosby said.

He also had concerns such as TPH in mind from the get-go and designed it to be worn on a lanyard or to hang on bags and belts, so that users reduce their contact with the parts that touch handles or other surfaces.

The KoalaGrip – a removable handle that can attach to carrying poles or pull the doors open – also currently comes with a carabiner, which can attach the gadget to a bag when not in use, minimizing contact between users and handles or posts.

Asked about TPH’s concerns, founder William Martin said in a statement Thursday that “it’s important to have options like the KoalaGrip to give people a stronger sense of security and some confidence to access spaces familiar ”.

Martin, his cousin and his girlfriend invented the device after having to commute during lockdowns.

“Public transit was pretty sketchy before, but then with (the coronavirus) it was almost banned,” Martin said, on a call from British Columbia on Wednesday.

“We bought bikes for the summer, but we didn’t really have a solution for the winter.

They sketched prototypes on a napkin about three months ago, hired a designer on the independent platform Upwork, and found a 3D printer in Toronto to make the devices.

At the end of February, they were selling the handles to people across Canada, Europe and Asia and marketing only on TikTok, where they racked up hundreds of thousands of views on demo videos filmed on Toronto vehicles. Transit Commission.

Although the transport committee has not given its support to individual products, she said in an email, “we understand that people are looking for ways to stay safe on the TTC and if they want to use doodads, gadgets or gadgets like these, we have no worry.


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Kehoe Young

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