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Here’s how long SARS-CoV-2 can last on your skin

Worried about the coronavirus on your hands? Wash them. Because it can last a long time.

SHARE Here’s how long SARS-CoV-2 can last on your skin
A man gets a COVID-19 test in Utah.

A man gets a COVID-19 test at Pleasant Grove Recreation Center on Wednesday, Sept. 2, 2020. On Thursday, Pleasant Grove High School will pivot from full-time in-person learning to a modified schedule due to an uptick of COVID-19 cases.

Laura Seitz, Deseret News

The novel coronavirus can last almost an entire workday on your hands if you leave them untouched, a huge difference from how long the influenza virus can survive.

What’s going on?

A new study — published in Clinical Infectious Disease — has revealed the length of survival for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that leads to COVID-19.

  • The study found SARS-CoV-2 can survive for 9.04 hours.
  • Meanwhile, Influenza A virus (IAV) survived for 1.82 hours.

When it comes to saliva and mucus on your skin, SARS-CoV-2 survives for 11.09 hours on average, versus 1.69 hours for IAV.

However, the study found that “both SARS-CoV-2 and IAV in the mucus/medium on human skin were completely inactivated within 15 seconds by ethanol treatment.

Why it matters

The nine-hour survival for SARS-CoV-2 on human skin suggests there could be an increased risk of transmission compared to the flu.

  • “Proper hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections,” the study said.

How to kill COVID-19

The CDC said that “washing hands with soap and water is the best way to get rid of germs in most situations.”

But hand sanitizer can help, too. The proper steps for using hand sanitizer to kill COVID-19 include:

  • Put the gel on the palm of one hand.
  • Rub your hands together.
  • Rub the gel into all surfaces of hands and fingers until dry.
  • The entire process should take 20 seconds.