KILLER coronavirus could survive on surfaces for much longer than other germs, experts have warned.
The deadly new bug may be able to live on door handles and handrails for up to nine days, according to one scientist.
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But Britain's top doc, Professor Chris Whitty, has suggested a timeframe of 72 hours – meaning people could be at risk for up to three days.
To put this into context, flu viruses can survive on hard surfaces and infect another person for 24 to 48 hours.
While the length of time cold viruses can live outside the body is even shorter – usually only a few hours.
German scientist, Professor Gunter Kampf, who carried out the new research says it suggests Covid-19 could be much tougher than common bugs.
He found it could survive for up to nine days on plastic and fives days on glass, metal, and wood.
In the first analysis of its kind, his team pooled data from 22 previous studies on coronaviruses and their inactivation for a future textbook.
It focused on the SARS and MERS coronaviruses and found they can persist and remain infectious at room temperature for up to nine days – the average is four to five days.
Prof Kampf, of the Institute of Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at Greifswald University Hospital, said: "Low temperature and high air humidity further increase their lifespan."
The results published in the Journal of Hospital Infection should also apply to Covid-19, he said.
Low temperature and high air humidity further increase their lifespan
Prof Kampf added that prevention is of particular importance in order to stem the epidemic.
Co-author Prof Eike Steinmann, head of the Department for Molecular and Medical Virology at Ruhr-University Bochum, said: "Under the circumstances, the best approach was to publish these verified scientific facts in advance, in order to make all information available at a glance."
Tests showed disinfectants and bleaches containing ethanol, hydrogen peroxide or sodium hypochlorite are most effective.
Applied in appropriate concentrations they virtually completely destroy the pathogenic particles, he said.
Prof Kampf said: "As a rule, this is sufficient to significantly reduce the risk of infection."
The experts assume the results from the analyses of other coronaviruses are transferable to the latest virus.
Different coronaviruses were analysed and the results were all similar.
Prof Kampf said: "The analysis of 22 studies reveals that human coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus or endemic human coronaviruses (HCoV) can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to 9 days.
"But they can be efficiently inactivated by surface disinfection procedures with 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite within one minute."
Other disinfectants containing benzalkonium chloride or chlorhexidine digluconate are less effective.
Prof Kampf said: "As no specific therapies are available for 2019-nCoV, early containment and prevention of further spread will be crucial to stop the ongoing outbreak and to control this novel infectious thread."
Survive for 72 hours
Meanwhile, Britain's chief medical officer, Professor Chris Whitty said droplets of the Covid-19 infection can remain on bus and train hand rails for up to three days.
The Chief Medical Officer explained: "There will be some risk of transmission and the risk peaks immediately after they've done it and goes down over time.
"It's probably largely gone by 48 hours and almost completely gone by 72 hours on a hard surface.
"Soft surfaces viruses last for a shorter period."
Prof Whitty made the revelation while being grilled by MPs by the House of Commons Health and Social Care Committee on Covid-19.
Prof Whitty added: "Just touching it will not give you the virus: it is if you touch it and then touch your face, having not washed your hands between them.
"So, if you go on to the Tube and touch the rail, that's fine, but just be aware of what you do with your hands.
"Don't touch your face, wash your hands, and then you can do what you like."
Health bosses say the best way to protect yourself is to wash your hands with soap and water for the time it takes to sing Happy Birthday twice.
Happy Birthday takes about 20 seconds to sing twice and is said to be the perfect number to clean your hands to thoroughly.
You should also not touch your eyes, nose or mouth with unwashed hands and avoid close contact with people who are sick.
Cleaning and disinfecting objects and surfaces which you may have touched is also important.
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