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Studies show that the new coronavirus can live on the skin for 9 hours, what does that mean?


Melissa Couto Zuber, The Canadian Press

Thursday, October 22, 2020 5:27 AM EDT

Last updated: Thursday, October 22, 2020 5:28 AM EDT

Recent studies show that the new coronavirus can live on human skin for up to nine hours, but experts say these findings aren’t as surprising as they might seem.

A study by Japanese researchers published earlier this month in the scientific journal Clinical Infectious Diseases examined how long a virus can survive on human skin, based on samples taken about a day after the corpse. It was.

The findings suggest that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can remain active for 9.04 hours. This is almost five times the survival time of the pathogen that causes the flu.

The study also showed that 80 percent ethanol-based disinfectants can kill new coronaviruses within 15 seconds.

Winnipeg epidemiologist Cynthia Kerr says it is her main take-out from the study.

“The virus can basically last a whole day in a laboratory setting, but it’s an important public health message to remind people that it can be quickly removed by just washing your hands,” she says. I did.

“Don’t rush to take a full-body shower every time you go home. It’s important to remember that if you have the virus in your hands and wipe your nose or put your fingers in your mouth, you can get infected. . “

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, says that touching the surface is less likely to cause COVID-19 than close contact with the infected person.

He suspects that the reason is not related to the viral load of droplets or aerosols, but to the viral load on the surface. He says that contact with a small viral load on the surface is unlikely to cause a severe infection, and our body is very mild, unaware that we have it. He added that he might fight the case.

“I don’t think[this study]needs to worry too much,” Furnes said. “If so, clinically you will find that touch is more important, and it is not.”

According to Furness, public health strategies in recent months have emphasized wearing masks and avoiding rallies “because it is more important.”

However, it is still important to wash your hands regularly, as asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic people can also be infected with the virus.

“I don’t want anyone to think that touch isn’t a problem at all. You can pick up viruses from touch,” Furnes said. “And you can pick up another virus during the COVID that weakens your body, and if you get the COVID you can have worse results.”

Experts also say that it is important to remember that studies done in a laboratory setting under fully controlled conditions are not always translated into the outside world.

According to Kerr, the study in Japan was conducted in hot and humid conditions where the virus is known to propagate.

She added that the use of skin samples from immovable corpses can also affect how long the virus stays on its surface.

“In my understanding, the virus is relatively fragile,” Kerr said. “So I don’t know how long it will be detected by your hands in the real world you are moving around.”

Much laboratory research has been done since the pandemic began to show how long new coronaviruses can survive on different surfaces. Another recent person has discovered that the virus can live on banknotes for up to 28 days.

But Furness says it’s taken with a grain of salt.

“Seeing who can live COVID for the longest time is like a twisted competition. I don’t think it’s fair,” he said. “Say you can survive on a bill for a few days-OK, when the bill is undisturbed in the dark, with perfect humidity, etc. It’s time to be a bit dangerous.”

And detecting a virus on the surface is not the same as deciding whether it is strong enough to infect someone, Kerr warned.

“That’s where we lack knowledge,” she said. “It can be (detectable) 9 hours, 6 hours, 12 hours, but the main point for me is how quickly you can eradicate it just by washing your hands.”

For Furness, an interesting part of Japanese research was the comparison with the normal influenza virus, which lasted an average of less than two hours on the surface of the skin.

He says it may provide potential clues as to why the new coronavirus is so contagious.

“This is a tough customer and sheds some light on the fact that it is a relatively tough virus compared to the flu,” he said. “And it helps explain why this is so much more contagious than something like the flu.”

This report by The Canadian Press was first published on October 22, 2020.


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