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washing your hands is crucial

The coronavirus seems to have a stronger persistence than the influenza virus on human skin, which highlights the importance of hygiene during this health crisis.

Washing your hands is a barrier gesture that may be too underestimated against coronavirus on a daily basis: its role is crucial. This is all the more the case in light of a new study, published in early October 2020 in Clinical Infectious Diseases. This research work confirms a strong persistence of the coronavirus on the skin, while providing some relevant data on the duration of this persistence and its limits.

The first figure put forward by the authors: 9 hours (average within the interval 7.96–10.2h). This is the total survival time that they were able to observe, and it is a “significantly longer” duration than for other infectious pathogens. By comparison, the influenza virus (influenza A) persists for up to 2 hours. Since the study of the persistence of such a pathogen on human skin is dangerous, the authors relied on the only possible method: the post-portem analysis.

The effectiveness of hydroalcoholic gel

« The 9 hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 on human skin may increase the risk of transmission by contact (…) thus accelerating the pandemic », Note the authors of the study. It should indeed be noted that we have frequently tend to touch our face – mouth, nose, eyes, ears – up to dozens of times per hour, when they are entry points for contamination.

Hand washing is essential and therefore should be done with care to eliminate the pathogenic potential of the hands. // Source: Pixabay

However, the scientists behind the study contrast with encouraging data: as with the influenza virus, the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus is inactivated within 15 seconds by the use of a disinfectant substance such as gel. hydroalcoholic. Inactivation of the coronavirus on the skin is faster, according to these results, than on other surfaces such as stainless steel, borosilicate glass and polystyrene. When a virus is inactivated, it means that a physical or chemical reaction has made it incapable of any infection, without it going away. This is how the samples are processed in the PCR analysis, by heat treatment, to protect laboratory technicians.

Since it’s not that easy to think of touching your face less, even if you have to try, ” good hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of infections caused by the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus “, Conclude the researchers from the figures obtained in their study. The 15 seconds before inactivation of the virus are also a reminder that hand washing, whether with soap or hydroalcoholic gel, cannot be sent briefly. It is about taking the time to knead all the hands, for about thirty seconds, without forgetting surfaces such as the fingertips or the thumb. ” Washing your hands properly takes as long as changing the ‘Happy Birthday’ rhyme twice », remember the World Health Organization.

The SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus appears to be a particularly resistant infectious pathogen overall. A recent laboratory experience suggested 28 days for persistence on smooth surfaces, such as glass or banknotes. This figure does not reflect reality, but “ideal” laboratory conditions for the virus, but this had already accentuated the importance of hygiene in the face of a virus with good survival capacities in different environments of daily life.

Photo credit of the one: Pexels

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