With no virus available to most of the world's populace and a steady rise in COVID-19 cases, people have been urged to keep themselves socially distanced and take suitable precautions. This includes aspects such as sanitising or washing your hands when you touch possibly contaminated objects or avoiding crowded public spaces.
But how long can the deadly virus linger on a surface? The WHO quotes recent research to say that the survival time period of the COVID-19 virus is different on different surfaces. "The virus can remain viable for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, up to four hours on copper, and up to 24 hours on cardboard. 11 This research was conducted under laboratory conditions (controlled relative humidity and temperature) and should be interpreted with caution in the real-life environment," a booklet for guidance for food businesses by the WHO adds.
More recently, a study published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal states that looks into the "stability of SARS-CoV-2 on the human skin". And their revelations only serve to underline how very important it is to frequently wash and sanitise our hands and other exposed skin. Researchers have found that the virus can survive for up to 9 hours on human skin.
For their experiment, they had used skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death. "The 9-h survival of SARS-CoV-2 on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV, thus accelerating the pandemic. Proper hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections," the researchers write.
Comparing with the influenza A virus (IAV), the researchers said that while SARS-CoV-2 and IAV were inactivated more rapidly on skin surfaces than on other surfaces, the survival time was significantly longer for SARS-CoV-2 than for IAV.
Both were inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol. This incidentally is the compound found in sanitisers.