From the viruses that cause the common cold to the novel Coronavirus, these can survive on different surfaces and still show the potential of reproducing cells. Till now, we probably know that COVID-19 spreads through respiratory droplets when an infected person sneezes or coughs and if a healthy person inhales those air droplets, then it is likely for him/her to get infected. But another fact related to it can’t be ignored either. These infectious air droplets can also land on the things after a few minutes and can linger on the surfaces for a longer time than we can imagine, indeed from hours to days. Since the evolution of Coronavirus and other related flu viruses, people are much armed to disinfect every commonly touched surface, wiping and sanitizing down the objects, food items, and surfaces, including phones and wallets, doorknobs, and switchboards, etc. The viruses can survive on human skin for hours, so it is suggested to avoid shaking hands as the degree to catching influenza is high.
The question arises, how long the Flu Viruses can survive?
There is no all-encompassing and standardized approach to it, as it varies on the multiple factors, including the influence of the virus, type of surface, amount of virus deposited on the surface, or external factors such as humidity and temperatures. These play significant roles in the countermeasure of the virus and its further impact on the health of a person.
Active nature of viruses on surfaces:
An early study of the virus suggests that the COVID-19 can quickly spread through the contaminated surfaces. It has long evident survivability on plastic and steel objects, ranging from hours to almost 3 or 4 days, while on wooden surfaces, it has a potential survival of max 24 hours or a day. However, it differentiates from the other things we tend to touch in a day.
Virus surviving on clothes;
Unfortunately, along with decontaminating the surface areas, the virus can live on fabrics, which has been a potential factor in spreading the infection. According to research, the virus causing COVID-19 is likely to spread through close contact with someone who’s infected that is why staying away and maintaining social distance is essential.
On the other hand, soft surfaces like fabrics make less likely for the flu-like viruses to transfer the germs to the hands or face as these can absorb the water away from the viruses. Although, anticipating the consequences beforehand is no harm even if the contamination is relatively low. If there is still a chance of worry, then washing laundry with standard detergents should be sufficient in handling the precautionary measures.
Virus on food and groceries;
There is no evident information on how the diet can catch flu-virus, especially COVID-19 since these respiratory illness viruses are different from foodborne viruses. Certainly, few safety measures would be considered significant in stopping the spread of the infection which includes;
a. Rinse fruits and vegetables with warm water and saline solution before preparing food.
b. Wipe processed food and grocery products with sanitizers and other disinfectant solutions.
c. Refrigerate food and other items, including meat and eggs, once washed within 2 hours if the external temperature is above 90 degrees F.
Survival of viruses on smartphones:
Smartphones are the most widely used by the people; hence the probability of getting the germs exposed through these is highly knowledgeable. It is essential to know how likely it will spread the virus for understanding the risk factor attached to mobile phones since it touches the body parts or other surfaces. A study by the WHO (World Health Organization) revealed that the viruses could stay on glass surfaces up to 4 days, which is approximately 96 hours and up to 72 hours on steel and plastic surfaces. Now, since almost all the mobile phones are classified and paneled up with glass surfaces, hence, mobile phones, including other gadgets such as laptops and pads, are likely to be in exposure state till 96 hours. However, an easy solution is to infect the electronic surfaces, which involve soaking the microfiber cloth with the soap solution and cleaning in and around surfaces, as suggested by Apple too.
Cleaning and hygiene tips:
The health can be protected with following simple hygienic measures that include:
a. Washing the hands regularly with soaps or wipes once any contaminated surface or infected person is contacted physically.
b. Avoid the continuous habit of touching faces as skin might interact with the exposed surfaces and can infect your eyes, ears, and other nasal passages and ultimately affect your respiratory blocks.
c. Coughing and sneezing on hands would cultivate the possibilities of spreading the germs or viruses to other people, so choosing the safety precaution as sneezing on an elbow or tissue paper could kill the reachability. Dispose of the tissue once exposed to germs immediately.
d. Keeping and maintaining distance from others wouldn’t encourage the spread. Hence social distancing practice as per the standardized instructions should be followed.
Cleaning and Disinfecting:
We have explored the bandwidth of the virus’s survival on various objects, however, at the same time, it is advisable to clean and disinfect the hard surfaces and soft surfaces accessible to the people around. If a surface is visible dirt or has a chance of getting exposed anytime, the next steps should always include cleaning and decontaminating surfaces. Disinfectant cleaning for COVID-19, products containing isopropyl alcohol, bleach solutions, and other vinegar solutions are recommended to clean off the virus or germs on highly contaminated surfaces including Steel, plastic, and other household surfaces.
Plan of action to disinfect hard and soft surfaces-
Hard or non-porous surfaces (floors, cupboards, mobile phones, furniture, doorknobs, steel, etc):
a. Use a diluted bleach solution or alcohol solution with a 70 percent concentration level or an EPA registered solution for COVID-19 disinfectant.
b. To prepare a diluted bleach solution, follow the instructions as:
– Mix bleach with a gallon of water
– Disinfect the hard surfaces and leave the solution until a few minutes before the surface is completely dried out naturally.
Soft Surfaces (Porous objects including fabrics, carpeted floors, etc):
a. Launder the items with the cleaning agents as detergents, soaps, or other agents responsible for removing the dust particles and germs.
b. However, for COVID-19 disinfection and cleaning, an EPA registered disinfectant solution has to be used to kill the contamination if laundry is not possible.
Food handling and disinfecting procedures:
The importance of sanitizing food items, fruits, and vegetables was practiced before the spread of Coronavirus. It is needless to say that cleaning the fresh food items with only water needs to be enhanced, and it doesn’t sound sufficient to anticipate the impact of the viruses evolving. Fruits and vegetables lurk through a lot before they finally end up in our drawers and, along the way, may pick up some harmful substances we wouldn’t want to eat. COVID- 19 adds other threats in the contamination of fruits and vegetables as others may have touched them before purchasing it. Moreover, there are certainly some ways to disinfect the germs in the right direction:
a. Effectively clean the fruits and vegetables with the solution of warm water and salt and dry them out in sunlight exposure.
b. Others can involve disinfecting the items with baking soda solution. Soak fruits and vegetables with the solution for 12-15 minutes if rinsing off with water doesn’t sound sufficient. Avoid using alcohol-infused sanitizers as it is harmful to inhale inside.