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How long does coronavirus last on surfaces? How Covid-19 can spread and hand washing advice explained

The i logo The i 19/03/2020
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As the coronavirus outbreak progresses, the simple act of touching a surface has become a delicate matter of risk analysis.

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The Government's guidance suggests we should wash our hands regularly for 20 seconds as well as frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly to slow the spread of Covid-19.

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But how long can coronavirus last on surfaces? And what is the Government's latest advice on sanitation?

Here's what you need to know.

How long can coronavirus last on surfaces?

Government guidelines suggest you should wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)

According to the World Health Organisation, we do not know for sure.

Studies suggest that coronaviruses - a large family of viruses that usually cause mild to moderate upper-respiratory tract illnesses - may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days.

This may vary under different conditions, for example the type of surfaces, temperature or humidity of the environment.

It's worth noting that Centers for Disease Control and Prevention suggests that although a person can get Covid-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own face - it's "not thought to be the main way the virus spreads".

That said health officials have emphasised that both washing your hands frequently and cleaning and disinfecting touched surfaces daily are key in preventing the virus' spread.

If you think a surface may be contaminated, clean it with a common household disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.

How does it spread?

The Prime Minister pledged a further £46 million for research into a coronavirus vaccine and rapid diagnostic tests during the visit to the Laboratory, where British scientists are working on ways to diagnose coronavirus. (Photo: Jack Hill / POOL / AFP)

As this is such a new illness, experts still aren’t sure how it is spread.

However, similar viruses are spread in cough droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.

These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs.

What's the latest advice and guidelines on sanitation?

To prevent the further spread of Covid-19, government guidelines suggest you should wash your hands with soap and water often – do this for at least 20 seconds.

You should also avoid touching eyes, nose and mouth unless your hands are clean.

If water and soap isn't available you should use hand sanitiser gel.

When you cough or sneeze, you should cover your mouth and nose with a tissue and bin it immediately afterwards.

If  you're living with a vulnerable person or someone who has been diagnosed with Covid-19, use a separate bathroom from the rest of the household if possible.

Use separate towels from the other people in your house, both for drying themselves after bathing or showering and for hand-hygiene purposes.

Frequently clean and disinfect objects and surfaces that are touched regularly, using your standard cleaning products.

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