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Thursday, May 28, 2020

New study shows coronavirus can stay on face masks for over a week

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and published in the medical journal The Lancet, examined how long the virus can remain on commonly-touched objects like that of currency, tissue papers and clothes.

By: Express Web Desk | Updated: April 7, 2020 10:35:48 am
New study shows coronavirus can stay on face masks for over a week The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can stay on the outer surface of face masks for as long as a week, a new study has found. (Representational Image)

The novel coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can stay on the outer surface of face masks for as long as a week, a new study has found.

The study, conducted by researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU) and published in the medical journal The Lancet, examined how long the virus can remain on commonly-touched objects like that of currency, tissue papers and clothes at room temperature.

The study revealed that the virus stays for less than three hours on tissue papers and printing papers. And on cloth (like a cotton lab jacket) and treated wood, the virus disappears by the second day. While it can remain on bank notes and glass for 2-4 days, on stainless steel and plastic, the virus persists for 4-7 days.

Researchers “strikingly” found detectable levels of coronavirus on the outer layer of a surgical face mask even after seven days.

Read | Explained: How long can coronavirus ‘live’ in air, and on steel?

Malik Peiris, a clinical and public health virologist, told the South China Morning Post, “This is exactly why it is very important if you are wearing a surgical mask you don’t touch the outside of the mask, because you can contaminate your hands and if you touch your eyes you could be transferring the virus to your eyes.”

However, these results do “not necessarily reflect the potential to pick up the virus from casual contact” since the presence of the virus on objects and surfaces was detected using lab tools, and not fingers and hands.

The study showed that the concentration of the virus on the studied surfaces declined rapidly with time and that household disinfectants such as bleach killed the virus almost instantly.

The study’s findings might help modify and improve the existent precautions that need to be taken to avoid contracting coronavirus and to slow down its spread.

Here’s a quick Coronavirus guide from Express Explained to keep you updated: What can cause a COVID-19 patient to relapse after recovery? | COVID-19 lockdown has cleaned up the air, but this may not be good news. Here’s why | Can alternative medicine work against the coronavirus? | A five-minute test for COVID-19 has been readied, India may get it too | How India is building up defence during lockdown | Why only a fraction of those with coronavirus suffer acutely | How do healthcare workers protect themselves from getting infected? | What does it take to set up isolation wards?

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