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Study: COVID lives on the skin for 9 hours, 5 times longer than the flu

TOKYO, Japan – Coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours, Japanese researchers found, in a finding they said showed the need for frequent hand washing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.

The flu-causing pathogen lives on in human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said a study published this month in the journal Clinical Infectious Diseases.

“The nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 [the virus strain that causes COVID-19] in human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV [influenza A virus], so the pandemic is accelerating, ”he said.

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The research team tested the skin collected from autopsy specimens, almost a day after death.

Medical staff wearing protective clothing transplanted the body of a patient who died from complications of coronavirus (COVID-19) infection, to the coronavirus ward of Ziv Medical Center in northern Safed city, on October 7, 2020. (David Cohen / Flash90)

Both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactive for 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitizers.

“Prolonged survival of SARS-CoV-2 in the skin increases the risk of contact; however, hand hygiene may reduce this risk,” the study said.

The study examines the World Health Organization’s guidelines for regular and thorough hand washing to limit the transmission of the virus, which has infected nearly 40 million people worldwide since it first appeared in China late last year.

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