Yes, Coronavirus could be transmitted through contaminated surfaces.
It lives longer on some surfaces than others.
It could live up to 72 hours on some hard, shiny surfaces.
Don’t worry, there are steps to mitigate the risk.
Like many other respiratory viruses, Coronavirus can spread easily from person-to-person. It could also be transmitted through cough into the air or on contaminated surfaces.
It is important to know that viruses can replicate only inside a living cell. Hence outside the cell, they’re either on a path to infect us, or their own destruction.
It brings us to a very important question – How long a virus survives on the surfaces?
To answer this, we have captured the details of major surfaces that we come into contact on a daily basis. There may be additional surfaces, but for the sake of simplicity, we are capturing the following surfaces:
AirBorne Droplets Coronavirus could survive and remain infectious in airborne droplets for almost 3 hours. But, it is still yet to be known if humans produce enough in a single cough to infect another person this way.
Hard, shiny surfaces such as plastic, stainless steel, benchtops, and likely glass The time for which Coronavirus could survive and remain infectious on Hard and shiny surfaces is 72 hours. This is dangerous as we come in touch with hard and shiny surfaces throughout our day. It includes your phone, public transport, doorknob, etc. The virus does deteriorate over time but you should avoid these surfaces in public spaces. But if you can’t, then avoid touching your face, mouth, eyes, nose or ear before thoroughly washing your hands.
Fibrous and absorbent surfaces such as cardboard, paper, and fabric On cardboard or clothes or paper, the virus could stay active for not more than 24 hours.
Here’s a quick snapshot of how long coronavirus can sustain on surfaces as per researchers:
Plastic & stainless steel surfaces: 2-3 days
Cardboard: 24 hours
Copper: 4 hours
Paper: up to 24 hours
Cloth: up to 24 hours
How can we reduce risk from surfaces and objects?
Though we frequently touch surfaces all around us, it is important to know that this leads to the risk of contracting the Coronavirus infection. Touching benches, handrails, door handles – they are in our homes, on our way to work, school, play, shop, and every other destination.
With increasing people getting infected, there is a high risk of these surfaces being contaminated. And if you touch such surfaces, it is very much possible that your fingers are loaded with viruses. Please think of your hands as the vehicle of the virus.
Take the following steps to be safe
Wash your hands well, and much more often than usual. Use soap or alcohol-based gels to wash your hands. It is recommended to wash hands for almost 20 seconds.
Between hand-washing, avoid constantly touching the mucous membranes that lead to your airways. In simpler words, try not to rub your eyes, pick your nose, or touch your lips and mouth.
As there is a very high probability that the areas outside our homes are contaminated. Hence, it is important not to touch your face. Please sanitize your hands frequently while you are out, and wash your hands and clean your phone once home.
Though it is best to stay home, keep these tips in mind if you must leave the house.
Shopping: If you are out on grocery shopping, clean the surfaces and items, including trolleys and baskets with either sanitizer or antibacterial wipes. It probably doesn’t matter what type of bag you use, but have a plan for how to avoid bringing the virus into your home.
Making payments: It is proven that cards and cash could transfer the virus. Though card payment is probably lower risk, rely on digital payment mode.
Handling and eating fresh and canned food: SARS-CoV-2 is inactivated at temperatures well below those required in the process of canning food, so canned food is free of it. For freshly packaged food, if a person doing the packing was sick, there is a risk of contracting the virus.
As per World Economic Forum, if you are concerned, stick with food that can be cooked, peeled or washed in mild soapy water, and thoroughly rinsed.
While the evidence is weak, we know soap and water should inactivate SARS-CoV-2 on food – but this will work better on foods with a shinier, harder outer surface, compared to foods that have been cut or have softer surfaces, such as strawberries and raspberries. If you decide to wash any food with soap, make sure all the soap is removed.
At the park
Make sure you and your kids avoid touching equipment that is likely used a lot, including play equipment and water fountains. Playing with a ball or grass is way safer than swings.
Takeaway and deliveries
If you are getting takeaway food please avoid plastic. It is better to use more fibrous materials such as cardboard, paper or fabric for packaging as research found no infectious coronavirus on cardboard after 24 hours. Please make sure you practice social distancing with the servers and delivery people. If you can opt for contactless delivery, please do.
Public transport, escalators, elevators, and bathrooms
It may surprise you, but frequently touched hard and shiny surfaces such as lift buttons and handlebars in the metro are a big risk. They are even riskier than fabric seats or taking the stairs. Make sure you wash your hands well and regularly if you are using public bathrooms.
Most importantly, it is important to be calm and realistic.
At IFORHER, we understand you may be scared for your and your families’ health, but with the right knowledge and right precautions you can keep them safe.