Coronavirus could live up to nine days on surfaces, germ expert warns Nick Ferrari

19 May 2020, 11:37 | Updated: 19 May 2020, 12:19

By Seán Hickey

The jury is still out on how long coronavirus can survive on surfaces, but some studies have shown it may last up to nine days.

Nick Ferrari was speaking to Dr James Milnes who is an expert in germs and was once the Ministry of Defence's chief of staff in the CBRN department and a deputy commander of NATO's CBRN Task Forces. CBRN is for chemical, biological, radiological and nuclear defences and so Dr Milnes has pedigree in the world of disease and virus combat.

"If you want to know, ask a man who knows" Nick joked after giving the germ expert his full title. He wanted to know if we "should we be concerned about books, newspapers and magazines" in a new normal and wanted to know how long does the virus could live on surfaces.

Dr Milnes said that "for this Covid-19 there hasn't been enough study to give a definitive time frame, but the common thinking is up to three days." He went on to tell Nick that on artificial surfaces such as glass, metals and plastics "some have been shown to stay for up to nine days."

Although stating that "most surfaces exposed to natural light see the virus denature quite quickly" he warned that because the findings of these studies range so widely it is best practice for people to "be cautious of things other people may have touched" when they're out and about so to avoid spreading the virus.

Nick was surprised at how careful the public must be with handling goods in supermarkets
Nick was surprised at how careful the public must be with handling goods in supermarkets. Picture: PA

Nick was surprised by the germ expert's claims, and went on to ask him about supermarket etiquette in future. "You see someone move a tin of beans, should you then not touch that tin of beans?"

Dr Milnes told Nick that best practice for people would be to avoid touching anything that another person has picked up or moved. He also reminded Nick of the recommended procedures of "washing hands regularly and wearing gloves" and such practice will greatly reduce the risk of transmission if followed well.

Nick pushed Dr Milnes and wanted to know how many times a person should be washing their hands after picking up just one tin of beans in a supermarket. The germ expert told Nick that "unless you wash your can down" when you return home, you should wash your hands every time you touch the tin.

"We are in unprecedented times and from a bio perspective people have got to understand that the virus does transfer onto surfaces" he said, urging the public to be aware of the risks of transmission on surfaces.

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