Airport security bins are notoriously germ-ridden, and with concerns over COVID-19 spiking worldwide, the US Transportation Security Administration is advising travelers to take extra precautions at security. 

Man puts mobile phone into tray for airport security check
The TSA wants travelers to avoid putting personal items directly into the bins at airport security © monkeybusinessimages/iStock/Getty Images Plus

In a statement to Business Insider earlier this week, the TSA said that travelers should avoid putting frequently handled items directly into the bins. 

"Bins in use in the security checkpoint are like any other piece of public property and should be treated as such. With hundreds of travelers coming through an airport security checkpoint each hour, the bins are a common use item," the agency told Business Insider. "Do not place personal items such as wallets, keys or phone in a bin. Instead, secure them in carry-on property to be screened through the X-ray system." 

Female traveller texting at airport check-in desk
Instead, travelers should stash phones, wallets, and keys in their carry-ons during security screenings © Andrew Bret Wallis/Getty Images

In addition, travelers and TSA agents alike were reminded to wash their hands – for passengers, before and after security, and for agents, as often as possible. The TSA also noted that hand wipes and sanitizer are both allowed on board

"As a reminder, travelers are permitted to bring individually-packaged alcohol or anti-bacterial wipes in carry-on or checked luggage,” the statement continued. “Jumbo containers of hand wipes are also allowed in carry-on or checked luggage. Liquid hand sanitizers also are permitted in carry-on luggage." 

Long exposure of blurred people walking at a New York City airport.
The agency also reminds travelers and employees to wash their hands regularly © Classen Rafael/EyeEm/Getty Images

There has been one confirmed case of coronavirus at a US airport this week. “TSA confirms that three Transportation Security Officers who work at Mineta San Jose International Airport have tested positive for the COVID-19 virus,” the agency said in a statement released 11 March. “The officers are receiving medical care and all TSA employees they have come in contact with over the past 14 days are quarantined at home. Screening checkpoints remain open and the agency is working with the CDC, as well as the California Department of Public Health and the Santa Clara County Public Health Department to monitor the situation as well as the health and safety of our employees and the traveling public.”

As a precaution, airlines are stepping up their cleaning procedures, taking extra steps to disinfect and sanitize their planes more frequently, as well as adjusting food-and-beverage service protocols. 

Then there are people like Naomi Campbell, who are taking the matter of prevention into their own hands. "Safety First NEXT LEVEL," she told her Instagram followers as she arrived at Los Angeles International Airport in a full-body hazmat suit. 

Keep up to date with Lonely Planet's latest travel-related COVID-19 news.

Read more: 

How airlines are trying to ensure coronavirus does not spread on board planes

Cruise lines suspend service in the wake of coronavirus

The US has announced a ban on travellers from Europe - so what does that mean?

Will the coronavirus force the cancellation of the 2020 Olympic Games?


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