There’s a reason why washing your hands is so important in the fight against the coronavirus — the novel coronavirus can stay on your hands for several hours, according to a new study.
A new report published in Clinical Infectious Disease found SARS-CoV-2 — the virus associated with the coronavirus — can survive for up to nine hours on the skin. Compared to the Influenza A virus, it’s survives nearly eight more hours in comparison (1.82 hours).
Even on other surfaces — such as stainless steel, glass, or plastic — the survival time for SARS-CoV-2 was significantly longer than for IAV, which the study said can stay on a surface for up to 11 hours compared to the flu’s shorter span of an hour and a half.
Additionally, SARS-CoV-2 can survive for 11.09 hours when it comes in contact with saliva and mucus on your skin but the use of an ethanol treatment can make the virus inactive within 15 seconds, per the study.
“This study shows that SARS-CoV-2 may have a higher risk of contact transmission than IAV because the first is much more stable on human skin than the former. These findings support the hypothesis that proper hand hygiene is important for the prevention of the spread of SARS-CoV-2,” the study said.
If you breakdown your day into nine-hour windows, it basically equates to the same amount of time you would spend commuting to work and working an entire workday.
If someone were to not wash their hands after coming in contact with SARS-CoV-2, it could potentially mean an outbreak in an office if other areas were properly sanitized after being exposed.
The study warned that the survival of the virus on human skin is “accelerating the pandemic,” which has resulted in more than one million deaths worldwide.
Since March, medical experts have campaigned for people to protect themselves by washing their hands. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advises that hands should be washed often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds after visiting a public space, or after you blow your nose or cough. If you’re not near soap and water, the CDC recommends using hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol as a way to combat the potential spread of COVID-19.
The CDC says to wash yours hands in these situations:
- Before eating or preparing food
- Before touching your face
- After using the restroom
- After leaving a public place
- After blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing
- After handling your mask
- After changing a diaper
- After caring for someone sick
- After touching animals or pets