Study Shows Novel Coronavirus Can Live On Skin For 9 Hours

A recent study suggests the novel coronavirus can live on human skin for up to nine hours, but experts say those findings aren’t as alarming as they sound. 

The study by Japanese researchers, published earlier this month in the science journal Clinical Infectious Diseases, looked at how long viruses can survive on human skin based on samples collected from cadavers about a day after death. 

The findings suggest that the virus that causes COVID-19 can remain active for 9.04 hours – nearly five times longer than the survival time of the pathogen that causes the flu. 

The study also showed that an 80 percent ethanol based sanitizer can kill the novel coronavirus in a matter of 15 seconds. It’s an important public health message to remind people that even though the virus can last basically a full workday in a lab setting, you can quickly get rid of it if you just wash your hands.

Colin Furness, an infection control epidemiologist at the University of Toronto, says people are less likely to contract COVID-19 from touching a surface than from having close contact with an infected person. 

However, even someone who’s asymptomatic or mildly symptomatic can transmit the virus, so Furess says it’s still important to wash your hands on a regular basis. “I don’t want anyone thinking that touch doesn’t matter at all. You can still pick up the virus from touch. And you can pick up a different virus during COVID that weakens your body and then if you do get COVID, you have a worse outcome.”

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