How long does coronavirus live on different types of surfaces? 

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed plastic is the surface the virus remains viable on for the longest — up to 72 hours. On stainless steel, the virus was detected up to 48 hours after application. For cardboard it was 24 hours and for copper just four hours. 

But Dr Bharat Pankhania, clinical lecturer at the University of Exeter, says that rather than keeping a running list of how the virus operates on different surfaces and when you last cleaned them, “your mindset needs to be that everything, everyone, everywhere is contaminated. And whatever you handle is a potential risk.” 

But that doesn’t mean you need to be afraid of everything you touch, it just means you need to keep up with washing your hands. “Do it meticulously every two hours... that is the solution.” 

Can it live on my clothes?

There is currently no evidence of that. But experts advise it would be a good idea to wash your clothes if somebody has coughed on them, or if they have brushed up against someone outside of the household with whom you are isolating. 

Dr Pankhania recommends a box for outdoor clothes by the entrance to your home. “You take your shoes off, handbag, mobile phone, coat, put it all into a box and then go to the sink, wash your hands, come back from the sink and have by that box some wipes. In that box, you wipe any outdoor stuff that you want to take inside like your mobile phone. Leave the rest there.” 

Which cleaning products should I use?

Some advice points to using bleach to disinfect “high touch points” — commonly handled objects such as door handles, railings and light switches. Most disinfectant wipes and sprays are thought only to be fully effective if the surface is left to stay wet for a few minutes. But Dr Pankhania stresses there is no need to overcomplicate your cleaning: “Liquid soap and a wipe-down are as good as any expensive items.”

Can I catch it from my post?

According to the World Health Organisation (WHO), the likelihood of an infected person contaminating commercial goods is low “and the risk of catching the virus from a package that has been moved, travelled, and been exposed to different conditions and temperature is also low”. 

Do I need to wash my groceries?

The NHS says: “It’s very unlikely [coronavirus] can be spread through things like packages or food.” 

What you should be doing is to dispose of any packaging and wash your hands thoroughly after handling your groceries. 

You should also reduce the amount of in-person contact by getting deliveries rather than going to the supermarket, and having your order left outside. 

Could my dog or cat transfer the virus on their fur?

While you and your family can practise social distancing, dog owners know it’s harder to stop a dog from making a beeline for potential four-legged pals when out on a walk. So could your dog catch the virus from rubbing up against someone else’s pet, and then pass it to you? 

According to the WHO, “there is no evidence that companion animals/pets such as dogs or cats can be infected”. 

Can I catch it from takeaways?

Takeaway outlets remain in business — but how can you guarantee you won’t catch the virus from your box of Pad Thai? When it comes to the food itself, Bill Keevil, professor of environmental health at Southampton University, says: “It’s very low-risk. If food is heated and cooked, there’s no danger at all.” The Food Standards Agency states that “it is very unlikely” to catch the virus from food. 

When it comes to the packaging, “if those preparing your food are following all the guidance for good food hygiene, that should be sufficient,” says Prof Keevil. If you’re really concerned, his recommendation is “to dispose of the packaging safely and not come into unnecessary contact with it, and to wash your hands immediately”.

The Daily Telegraph

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