Prevention: How long does coronavirus stay on surfaces?

It can take anywhere between 15 seconds to minutes to possibly "kill" the virus, depending on the quality of your product.

Corona Virus
Picture: Pixabay

Door handles, trains, bathrooms or literally any surface you touch are laden with germs and viruses, more so right now when the coronavirus pandemic is spreading. People are panicking and rushing to buy sanitizers, handwashes, masks and medicines to protect themselves and adopting rigid measures to keep areas coronavirus-free.

However, before you go about protecting yourself from the infection, there is one thing you should know about. How long does the coronavirus stay on a surface?

How does coronavirus infection spread? Coronavirus is primarily a respiratory infection which spreads through the air (through cough, sneeze, mucus and other droplets) and according to CDC guidelines, a person can also catch the infection if he touches the surfaces with virus deposits, and then when they come in contact with your eyes, mouth, or nose.

While it is next to impossible to AVOID touchings surfaces (or carry on regular work), what one needs to do is disinfect and cut down on the risk of developing infections.

Also read: Coronavirus: Make hand sanitizer at home

Researchers say that novel coronavirus earmarked COVID-19 is likely to last on a surface for ‘hours at a stretch to a day’. Several studies have also compared the pattern of spread of the novel coronavirus to other viruses from the same family, such as SARS coronavirus, which has the potential to stay on a surface for up to nine days.

Hence, while there is no conclusive proof about how long COVID-19 germs can stay, the lifespan depends on a number of factors in place- such as the temperature, weather condition, kind of surface it breeds on.

Gif: Giphy

What surfaces are most susceptible to viruses?
Scientists say that the most commonly used commodities are the ones most likely to be a contact place for viral infections to hatch-which means it includes money notes, coins, change, mobile phones, laptops, doorknobs and handles.

Surfaces such as doorknobs and tabletops are more prone to catching viruses and hold on to them for long. As compared to this, other porous surfaces, such as hair, fabric, money, do not help the viruses survive for long as they have minute holes which can trap the microbes and stop the spread and transmission.

Does humid, hot temperature kill the virus?
While there is no scientific answer for the same, there is some evidence which suggests that temperatures between 20-30 degree Celcius dry out the fat layer of the virus-cell, killing it.

Hence, temperature and underlying weather conditions do have a role to play as well. If this is indeed true, it supports the fact that coronavirus acts out like a respiratory illness which takes place in the wintertime.

Also read: Right way to apply hand sanitizer for maximum impact

How to disinfect properly?
While you cannot stop the viruses from spreading onto the point of contact, what one can really do is invest in proper disinfection. Be it your bathroom, tabletops, chair handles, doorknobs, disinfect surfaces using a good alcohol-based solution. It can take anywhere between 15 seconds to minutes to possibly “kill” the virus, depending on the quality of your product.

As a rule of thumb, you should consider cutting down the number of times you touch these germy things (avoid exchanging money notes, if you can) and disinfect your screens and phones regularly-more so if you have the habit of taking your phone to the bathroom, where the risk amplifies.

And when you can’t disinfect, or when you travel, wash your hands and sanitize when possible to cut down on your risk of infection. And most importantly, stop touching your eyes, face or the mouth often.

While we report on the spread of coronavirus in India, we also need to emphasise that the need for caution shouldn’t lead to an atmosphere filled with anxiety and fear. We stand by #CautionYesPanicNo

Also read: Coronavirus: 10 reasons why you don’t need to panic