Interview zu COVID-19:
Prof. Dr. Andrea Grisold is one of Austria’s leading experts in questions concerning the spread of infections such as the coronavirus (COVID-19) SARS CoV-2. As a specialist in hygiene and microbiology as well as a specialist in infectiology and tropical medicine, she is active in numerous committees. She is a member of the board of the Austrian Society for Hygiene, Microbiology and Preventive Medicine and chairwoman of the National Committee for the Elimination of Measles in Austria, to name but a few areas of her extensive activities.
Here are her answers:
SeaHelp: If I am sitting outside on a yacht or charter yacht in one of the marinas on the Croatian Adriatic in summer and the nearest neighbor is three to four meters away, do you see any danger in that?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: No, I certainly don’t see any danger in that. As we know, the rule of one to two meters distance should be kept, if I am three to four meters away, it is certainly not dangerous.
SeaHelp: The German Weather Service has issued a press release stating that transmission of the coronavirus should be severely restricted in sunshine and a certain relative humidity. Can you confirm this from your experience?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: It is known that UV radiation reduces the survival time of some viruses. However, it does not seem certain at present that high temperatures or a lot of sunshine will lead to a lower spread of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, as this virus also spreads in countries where temperatures are already high. Finally, the influence of the climate will only be really assessed in a year’s time.
SeaHelp: How do you see the situation in charter tippers?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: Everything depends on the local corona situation and on the personal responsibility of the vacationers and crew members. This means that trips, as far as possible, should only be undertaken if you are without symptoms, i.e. if you do not have a fever, cough, diarrhoea or other signs of COVID-19. If you should really fall ill during the cruise and you cannot get off the boat, you should stay in your cabin in any case to minimize the risk of infection for your fellow passengers.
SeaHelp: More specifically, should you allow a charter crew to meet on a charter boat?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: Also, travel on a charter boat will only be possible under certain conditions. First and foremost, standard hygiene measures such as keeping your distance (where at all possible on a ship) and increased hygiene measures. PCR tests in advance are currently being discussed, but actually only make sense if the entire crew never leaves the boat. The moment you go shopping in the marina for food or in the harbour, for example, you could be infected again at any time. Here it is important to keep your distance and, if necessary, wear a mouth guard and wash your hands when entering the boat. Do the crew members know each other and treat each other trustfully concerning possible infections, but I do not see any problem with that according to the current status. A certain residual risk cannot be excluded at home.
SeaHelp: Do you generally see a danger in charter travel?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: If the travelers are healthy and in small groups, such charter trips are certainly possible. When leaving the ship in the evening, you should avoid crowds, keep your distance and wash your hands as often as possible.
SeaHelp: Now I go to a restaurant, for example, and have the misfortune to find out that the cook has already been infected unnoticed. Can the viruses then be transmitted to the food by the kitchen staff?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: Corona viruses are transmitted via droplets or smear infection. There is currently no evidence that these viruses are transmitted via food. Even if the cook has coughed on the food, there is no danger. In a restaurant, the most likely source of danger is the waiter or the people behind the bar who could infect you by coughing or sneezing, but only if they are ill.
SeaHelp: Well, I could eat my cevapcici. And what about salad?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: Corona viruses are not heat-resistant, which means there is definitely no risk of infection from heated food. The question of transmission via salad is also purely hypothetical, as the virus is not very environmentally stable and salads are marinated before consumption, which would also kill the viruses. There is only a danger of infection if you attack something where viruses may be on top and then go to your mouth and nose.
SeaHelp: Croatia plans to reopen tourist facilities no earlier than May 11th. Does that make sense from your perspective?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: We are not talking about sense or nonsense at the moment, but rather about keeping a close eye on the infection figures. If you look at the so-called reproduction rate and it is below 1, i.e. a corona patient infects less than another person according to statistics, you can certainly think about reopening such facilities such as restaurants.
SeaHelp: Can you give any tips to skippers?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: The standard hygiene measures will be to keep your hands off the water as often as possible, and it makes sense, of course, to clean or disinfect surfaces that are attacked by many, such as handles with which everyone on board comes into contact, more often.
SeaHelp: In short, from an infectiologist’s point of view, can you recommend such a charter trip in Croatia?
Prof. Dr. Grisold: In small groups and in compliance with hygiene measures, there is no reason not to. But you have to pay attention to local developments and keep an eye on the infection rates.
SeaHelp: Thank you very much for the interview.