Coronaviruses Are Able To Stay Active For Up To 9 Days On Surfaces If Not Disinfected

Singaporeans have been buying up hand sanitisers and disinfecting cleaning products to the point where you can barely find them anywhere. It may seem ridiculous, but according to this study by experts, they might be on to something.

Analysing 22 previous studies on coronaviruses such as the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS), researches have found that these viruses can stay active on surfaces for up to 9 days.

They also discovered that disinfectants and high concentrations of alcohol significantly weakened any residual viruses on the surfaces, effectively making them less contractable.

So, yes, disinfecting surfaces and your hands whenever you can may actually prevent you from catching or spreading Covid-19.

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For the academics among us, you can read their paper here.

For the rest of us plebeians, read on for a more digestible take on their paper.

Results from study say SARS can survive 9 days on surfaces

In essence, the research investigates the effect of disinfecting cleaning agents on coronaviruses.

Since Covid-19 is part of the coronavirus family, studying similar viruses like SARS and the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) allows them to predict how Covid-19 may react.

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Earlier studies found that SARS and MERS could survive on “inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days”, leading researchers to believe the same for Covid-19.

A solution to inactivate them is a simple disinfection procedure involving the following within 1 minute of contact:

  • 62-71% ethanol
  • 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite

In other words, hand sanitizer and most disinfectant sprays or household cleaning products will weaken any residual virus on surfaces very effectively.

Other experts say more research necessary to form conclusion

In a report by CNN, an infectious disease professor, Dr. Charles Chiu, shared his view of the conclusions that the team of researchers had come to.

Given that SARS and Covid-19 are 80% identical, Dr. Chiu “would primarily rely on the data from SARS coronavirus”.

But the ongoing mystery about Covid-19 holds him back from making inferences like the ones the researchers have.

He said,

it is very difficult to extrapolate these findings to the novel coronavirus due to the different strains …and the lack of data on the novel coronavirus itself

Due to scientific limitations with not being able to perfectly recreate the environments Covid-19 may be in, we can’t conclusively say that it can survive on a surface for 9 days.

As with all scientific research, more research and tests have to be carried out on the Covid-19 virus itself so that its duration of survival can be properly established.

Coronaviruses usually spread by droplets

Britain’s Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) states that coronaviruses are usually spread through respiratory droplets like saliva.

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This happens when people are in close proximity to one another, and the droplets are inhaled or swallowed.

Since coronaviruses can survive on surfaces for extended periods, people can contract them by touching infected surfaces, and then their mouth, nose, or eyes.

Droplets are still the primary route of infection.

Washing hands often and avoiding contact with sick are still optimal

As the Ministry Of Health (MOH) has been reminding us, we should stick to “frequent hand washing” to prevent infection.

Adhering to quarantine orders and avoiding contact with those who are unwell are also advisable during this period.

Although we can’t be certain whether disinfectants and hand sanitizer kill Covid-19, we can still take precautions by using them. We should, however, avoid hoarding them, as others need them too.

Exercising caution is key to overcoming Covid-19, but we should never do it at the expense of others. If you’re hopping on the “disinfection train”, make sure you leave enough to go around.

Featured image adapted from TODAY.