Corona germs live on skin far longer than flu: new study

Japanese researchers show nine-hour life of coronavirus on skin makes hand-washing more critical.

By Paul Shindman, World Israel News

A Japanese research team published the results of a new study showing the coronavirus can survive on human skin for up to nine hours, reinforcing the importance of hand-washing to prevent the spread of Covid-19.

The team of researchers from the Department of Infectious Diseases and Medical Faculty of the Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine published their results in the Journal of Clinical Infections Diseases, comparing the survival rate of the coronavirus with regular flu viruses lifespan on human skin.

“The 9-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV (flu), thus accelerating the pandemic. Proper hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections,” the report concluded.

The researchers undertook the study because they said little was known about the stability of the coronavirus on human skin.

While many people around the world have gotten used to washing their hands with soap and water for 20 seconds, the study also found that the ethyl alcohol in most hand sanitizers also kills coronavirus within 15 seconds.

Particles with the regular flu virus will remain active for an average of 1.8 hours, but SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus can stay active on the skin for nine hours. However, if the coronavirus gets into your respiratory system or other areas of the body where there are mucous membranes, it can stay alive and capable of infection for up to 11 hours.

On Sunday, Israel began easing the national coronavirus lockdown imposed last month, under which the infection rate continues to drop. Israelis are no longer restricted to within one kilometer of their homes, small businesses can open without allowing customers in, daycare for children up to age six was reopened, restaurants are now allowed to open for takeout orders, and beaches and national parks have reopened.

“I ask you, all of you, to follow the rules; they save lives. Together we will be able to lift the lockdown,” Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu said Friday at the start of the cabinet meeting.

Israel’s Health Ministry has been running a nationwide ad campaign for several months urging Israelis to comply with the main three health guidelines: wear a face mask, maintain social distancing and regularly wash hands.

Israel’s 9-stage is expected to continue through February, with additional easing of restrictions every two weeks so long as the infection rates continue to drop.

On Friday morning, the ministry announced the infection rate continued to drop, with 33,484 Israelis currently sick with the virus. Of those, 1,212 are hospitalized with 683 listed in serious condition, a drop of about 200 over the past two weeks.

Israel’s death toll since the beginning of the pandemic stands at 2,202, with over 500 deaths in the past month alone.