The Most Common Surfaces to Look Out for to Avoid COVID-19 Transmission

Shabnam Muzammil

We are all currently living through what may very well be one of the most precarious times of our lives, and have been exposed to a gamut of suggestions and precautionary measures by experts that we are to follow during this daunting season of COVID-19. We have been repeatedly told to following the obvious rules with regard to coronavirus transmission: washing hands frequently with soap, safe distancing and staying at home when you’re not feeling 100%, to name a few. But the list doesn’t end there! According to the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), germs and flu viruses can live on surfaces for a minimum of 48 hours, and the same applies to the novel coronavirus pathogens. This means that we must be very careful when touching common surfaces, be it home or outdoors, and have been advised to use disinfectants to kill coronavirus on surfaces and thus, eliminate the risk of virus transmission as much as possible. 

coronavirus on surfaces

Viruses can survive on common objects for up to 48 hours. Photo: iStock

Coronavirus on Surfaces

How Long Can Coronavirus Pathogens Last on Surfaces and How Can One Avoid Transmission Risks

Doctors and research scientists have confirmed that the coronavirus can survive on surfaces from up to a few hours to several days. In fact, SARS and MERS were found to be alive on plastic, metal and glass surfaces for up to 9 days! In a recent report published this month (17 March), scientists from The New England Journal of Medicine noted that COVID-19 virus can last for up to 3 hours in the environment, 4 hours on copper surfaces, 24 hours on cardboard surfaces and as long as 3 days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces. According to this study, it is evident that one has a high probability of acquiring the virus through the air or by touching contaminated surfaces. It was reported that some viruses cannot live for long hours in temperatures of more than 86 °F (30 °C). 

In conjunction with this study, health experts have advised cleaning frequently touched surfaces and objects using disinfectant sprays or wipes. This can greatly lower your risk of acquiring a transmission of coronavirus on surfaces. According to CDC, common household disinfectants registered by the EPA, solutions comprising 70% of alcohol, and diluted bleach solutions could all do the trick.

Additionally, we have further been advised against the mixing of household bleach with ammonia or other cleansers, as this could give produce poisonous fumes unsafe to our respiratory systems. 

coronavirus on surfaces

Health experts have advised regularly cleaning and disinfecting surfaces. Photo: iStock

 

Surfaces to Disinfect

We have in our possession a number of objects and personal items which have probably accumulated years’ worth of germs and common viruses on them.

Regardless of that, we don’t pay heed to the cleanliness of surfaces we put our hands on very often, because the common germs present on these surfaces are not as harmful as the novel coronavirus.

However, during this widespread COVID-19 pandemic, we must ensure that we clean common surfaces and objects every day. 

  • Cash is one main object that travels between hundreds to thousands of hands on a daily basis. It accumulates tons of dirt on it and there’s every chance that COVID-19 pathogens could exist on the notes and coins we carry. It is always best to sanitize or wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water or an alcohol-based hand rub for 20 seconds or more, after handing cash. If you are not able to do, avoid touching your face with your hands, and wash your hands as soon as you can. 
  • The same amount of germs present and risk of transmission applies to switches, desks, doorknobs, keys, remotes, electronic gadgets, ATMs, touch screens, sinks, taps, handles, faucets and any other surface that we touch every day. Despite not being able to disinfect outdoor objects, we can be careful of the surfaces and objects that are in our homes and the ones we carry with us in our possession. Regularly clean and disinfect any high-frequency objects such as doorknobs, hardback chairs, locks, sinks and taps, and always wash your hands afterward. 
coronavirus on surfaces

Wipe down surfaces with rubber gloves, and discard the gloves once you’re done with them. Photo: iStock

To be on the safer side, it’s best if you use gloves when disinfecting surfaces around the home, and later discard the pair of gloves used.

When doing laundry, it is advisable to use warm/hot water and ensure that your clothes are well dried.

As parents, getting rid of coronavirus on surfaces is one of the many important preventive measures that we need to follow during these challenging times. Despite this situation being overwhelming, all we can do is stay home as much as possible and try to control things within our power to avoid contributing to the exponential spread of this deadly virus. 

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