Coronavirus

COVID-19 can live on skin for up to 9 hours

The importance of washing hands during the pandemic has been highlighted as researchers say COVID-19 can survive on human skin for up to nine hours.

The Japanese team, from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine, said having this knowledge will further help to develop treatment approaches and to prevent contact transmission.

The findings have also shown that COVID-19 lives four times longer than the influenza A virus, otherwise known as the flu.

The research involved using cadaver skin so healthy people were not needed to be infected by the virus.

Samples of coronavirus and influenza virus A were left on the skin cells. The flu virus lived for about 1.8 hours on the skin, but COVID-10 carried on for about nine hours. However, coronavirus survival was further extended for another two hours, when it was mixed with mucus from upper respiratory tract samples.

However, the survival of both conditions were inactivated within 15 seconds when hand sanitiser containing 80% alcohol was applied.

The authors wrote: “This study shows that SARS-CoV-2 may have a higher risk of contact transmission than [influenza A virus] because the first is much more stable on human skin than the former.

In the community:

“These findings support the hypothesis that proper hand hygiene is important for the prevention of the spread of SARS-CoV-2.

“Thus, this study may contribute to the development of better control strategies in the context of COVID-19 to prevent the occurrence of the second or third waves of this pandemic.”

At the moment, Governmental advice is still focussing on the importance of hand washing, saying people should be doing it for at least 20 seconds in a bid to stop the spread of COVID-19.

The findings have been published in the Clinical Infections Diseases journal.

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