Coronavirus is a respiratory illness which has infected more than 110,000 people around the world. Typically it is spread via airborne droplets when an infected patient coughs or sneezes, but the killer virus can survive on surfaces for a period of time.
Virus droplets may remain infectious for a time depending on where they fall.
Generally viruses remain active longer when they have fallen on stainless steel, plastic and similar hard surfaces, rather than on fabric and soft surfaces.
Factors such as the amount of virus deposited, the temperature and humidity of the environment will determine how long a virus stays active outside of the body.
Some viruses, such as SARS, can last for days on surfaces and now an expert has claimed the deadly new strain of coronavirus could have a lifespan of up to nine days.
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England’s Chief Medical Officer Professor Chris Whitty advised that the COVID-19 infection can remain on bus and train handrails of up to three days.
However, he said they would be “largely gone” within 48 hours in most cases.
Professor Whitty said: “There will be some risk of transmission and the risk peaks immediately after they’ve done it and goes down over time.
“It’s probably largely gone by 48 hours and almost completely gone by 72 hours on a hard surface. “Soft surfaces viruses last for a shorter period.”
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However, another expert has claimed the lifespan for coronavirus could be as much as nine days.
A study published last week in the Journal of Hospital Infection investigated the lifespans of other coronaviruses found in humans on various surfaces.
The SARS coronavirus, at a temperature of 20C lasts for two days on steel, four days on wood and glass, and five days on metal, plastic and ceramics.
The scientist who conducted new research Professor Gunter Kampf says it suggests COVID-19 could be much tougher than common bugs.
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Professor Kampf’s data is the first analysis of its kind, created from 22 previous studies on coronaviruses and their inactivation for a future textbook.
The research was predominantly focused on the SARS and MERS coronaviruses and found they can persist and remain infectious at room temperature for up to nine days.
However, the average lifespan was between four and five days.
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Prof Kampf, of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at Greifswald University Hospital, said: “Low temperature and high air humidity further increase their lifespan.”
He added the results published should also apply to the new strain of coronavirus.
Co-author Prof Eike Steinmann, head of the Department for Molecular and Medical Virology at Ruhr-University Bochum, said: “Under the circumstances, the best approach was to publish these verified scientific facts in advance, in order to make all information available at a glance.”
How can you more aptly protect yourself and your surfaces?
To reduce the risk of infection, you should clean surfaces with disinfectant.
The authors of the recent study noted that human coronaviruses could be “efficiently inactivated” on surfaces within one minute if they’re cleaned with solutions containing 62-71 percent ethanol alcohol, 0.5 percent hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1 percent sodium hypochlorite.
Applied in appropriate concentrations these disinfectants virtually completely destroyed the pathogenic particles.
The important thing when disinfecting a surface is getting the potential infectious dose of the virus below a level that will cause disease.
Hand sanitiser is meant to lower how much infection is on your hands, without stripping your skin of its natural oils and moistures, so it is best not to use to disinfect surfaces.
Instead, it is best advised to use a specifically designated surface disinfectant to clean surfaces.