It is unknown exactly how long the novel coronavirus can linger on contaminated surfaces and objects with the potential of infecting people, but some researchers are finding clues by studying the elusive behaviors of other coronaviruses.
Cleaning with common household products can make a difference, according to the research, which also found that human coronaviruses “can be efficiently inactivated by surface disinfection procedures with 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite” or bleach within one minute.
The new research involved analyzing 22 previously published studies on coronaviruses, which researchers hope can help provide insight into the novel coronavirus.
“However, it is very difficult to extrapolate these findings to the novel coronavirus due to the different strains, viral titers and environmental conditions that were tested in the various studies and the lack of data on the novel coronavirus itself,” he said. “More research using cultures of the novel coronavirus are needed to establish the duration that it can survive on surfaces.”
While there are some similarities between other coronaviruses and the novel coronavirus, there are some differences emerging, too.
“More than 80% of patients have mild disease and will recover. In about 14% of cases, the virus causes severe diseases including pneumonia and shortness of breath. And about 5% of patients have critical diseases including respiratory failure, septic shock and multiorgan failure,” he said. “In 2% of reported cases, the virus is fatal, and the risk of death increases the older you are. We see relatively few cases among children. More research is needed to understand why.”
“It is a significant concern, globally,” Ferguson said, noting that we don’t yet fully understand the severity.
Ferguson said he believes the fatality rate is likely to be lower because of an “iceberg” of milder cases that have not yet been identified, but he highlights that novel viruses spread much more quickly through a population.
“Remain informed, but do not panic,” Chiu said.
If you do have concerns, “my recommendations would be frequent hand-washing, avoiding contact with people who are sick, follow home quarantine recommendations according to the latest public health agency guidelines if you have recently traveled from China or were in contact with a known or suspected infected patient,” he said.
But overall, “it is still far more likely that you contract influenza rather than this novel coronavirus, meaning that you should get vaccinated for influenza as well.”
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