VERDICT: Yes, which is why it is important to flush while the chamber lid is closed.
Is there a possibility that if you breathe in the smell of contaminated faeces, you can be infected with Covid-19?
The answer is yes, as well.
According to Deputy Minister of Health and Child Care, Dr John Mangwiro, Covid-19 can be found in any fluid excreted from the human body.
“This can be in saliva, tears, vaginal secretion, semen, urine, blood, faeces or any secretion from the body it carries the virus. Covid-19 is a metabolic disease, it is a metabolic virus so it’s everywhere including where you don’t suspect,” he said.
Dr Mangwiro highlighted that the coronavirus could be spread from human waste as it present in large quantities in faeces.
“So when you are in the toilet make sure you go in there when the smell has settled down, really you can breathe it in,” he said.
“When you flush in the toilet, always close the chamber lid, flushing must be closed so that you don’t spill and the virus spreads. These are important factors that you must continue to remember about this virus because it’s always everywhere.”
However, due to serious water challenges in cities such as Bulawayo where water is available in taps once a week or once in two weeks, some residents have resorted to open defecation.
Open defecation is the human practice of defecating outside or in the open rather than into a toilet.
With the water shortages, people have been forced to choose fields, bushes, forests, ditches, streets or other open space for defecation since there is no water to flush while others do not have a toilet readily accessible, which is a health hazard and may possibly contribute to the spread of Covid-19.
Despite the water shortages, the health deputy minister urged people to use safe methods for disposing of their excreta, saying they could use pit latrines or bucket systems.
“Open defecation is not encouraged in any area, so I think people must just look for water and do that (relieve themselves) and use proper health facilities. Even if there is no water, there might be pit latrines or we can use the bucket system,” Mangwiro said.
“It’s not fair for anyone to practice open defecation because there is no water at that moment. Let’s continue to use safe methods of disposing our excreta, be it urine or faeces. We are Zimbabweans and known for cleanliness. We cannot afford to have someone going behind the bush in this era. Even in rural areas where there is no water people still have pit latrines and people use bucket systems.”