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COVID-19: Watch out for these everyday objects that could harbor the disease

/ 06:57 PM October 13, 2020
20201013 Everyday objects COVID-19

The virus responsible for covid-19 can survive up to 28 days on smartphone screens, a new study has found. Image: IStock/urbazon via AFP Relaxnews.

From door handles and handrails on public transportation to disposable tissues and enclosed spaces with inadequate ventilation, public health messaging encourages us to be wary of things that present genuine risks of catching COVID-19. But certain other day-to-day objects, things that you touch or share instinctively, could also be potential sources of contamination, contributing to the spread of COVID-19. Here are some things that you should handle with particular care.

Smartphones

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Some people do everything they possibly can , and rightly so, to avoid touching the handrails when traveling on public transport to minimize their risk of picking up COVID-19. But they may not imagine that the smartphone they are glued to during their daily commute could also be a source of contamination.

Although we do not yet know the frequency or extent to which COVID-19 is spread through contact with contaminated surfaces, scientists from the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO) in Australia have demonstrated that it can survive for up to 28 days on smartphones. The news should be taken with caution, however, because the study was carried out under strict lab conditions,  a far cry from day-to-day life.

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Nevertheless, it still serves as a handy reminder just how important it is to clean your smartphone regularly, wash your hands, avoid touching your face after touching the device screen and avoid using your smartphone while eating. These basic hygiene rules should ideally be followed irrespective of the COVID-19 pandemic, since smartphones can be veritable breeding grounds for bacteria.

Banknotes

While card payments, especially contactless, have been strongly advised since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, plenty of people are still using cold, hard cash. Banknotes and coins should be handled with the greatest of caution when you think about how frequently they pass from hand to hand without ever undergoing any kind of cleaning.

In the CSIRO study, published in the Virology Journal, researchers report that coronavirus can also survive up to 28 days on banknotes, which means taking extra care with hygiene measures. To reduce the risk of contamination and transmission, hand washing between each exchange of cash is highly recommended. Note that the results of this vast Australian study also extend to the screens of ATMs and self check-out machines.

Jewelry

Washing your hands several times a day with soap and water or alcohol-based hand sanitizer, without a doubt, comes together with mask-wearing, the most important recommendation in these pandemic times. But have you ever considered that your jewelry could be a potential source of contamination?

Although research has not identified jewelry as a specific potential risk, it is evident that rings come into contact with many of the surfaces we have been advised to avoid, such as door handles, handrails on public transport, or even the desk you work at each day. Stay safe by paying close attention to your accessories and cleaning jewelry as much as possible.

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Cigarette lighters

A final object to handle with care is the humble cigarette lighter. Smokers might instinctively lend their lighter to anyone and everyone who asks for a light, without being able to wash hands before handing it over or after getting it back. This can happen several times a day, whether at work or on the street. In light of this potential source of contamination, smokers may want to rethink their habits or sanitize their lighters often in order to help prevent the spread of COVID-19. CC

RELATED STORIES: 

How to clean your smartphone, tablet, laptop to protect yourself from coronavirus 

Disinfect, sanitize to arrest COVID-19 spread, CDO folk urged

TOPICS: Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organisation (CSIRO), COVID-19 pandemic, infection, sanitizing, smartphones
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