Tuesday April 7, 2020

Coronavirus Can be Kept Stable for Hours or Days on Surfaces: Study

Novel coronavirus stable for hours on surfaces, says a recent study

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Coronavirus
Coronavirus can be kept stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study. Pixabay

The virus responsible for COVID-19 disease, which has claimed over 7,000 lives globally, can be kept stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces, according to a new study.

The researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

The findings, published in the new England Journal of Medicine, provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.

According to the researchers, the study information was widely shared during the past two weeks after the researchers placed the contents on a preprint server to quickly share their data with colleagues. The NIH scientists, from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases’ Montana facility at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, compared how environment affects SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, the virus that causes SARS.

Coronavirus
The researchers at the US National Institutes of Health (NIH), found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. Pixabay

SARS-CoV-1 was eradicated by intensive contact tracing and case isolation measures, and no cases have been detected since 2004. SARS-CoV-1 is the human coronavirus most closely related to SARS-CoV-2, according to the study. In the stability study the two viruses behaved similarly, which unfortunately fails to explain why COVID-19 has become a much larger outbreak.

The research attempted to mimic virus being deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as through coughing or touching objects. The scientists then investigated how long the virus remained infectious on these surfaces.

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The findings affirm the guidance from public health professionals to use precautions similar to those for influenza and other respiratory viruses to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2, including avoiding close contact with people who are sick; avoiding touching eyes, nose, and mouth; staying home when people are sick; covering cough or sneeze with a tissue; and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces.

The study was jointly carried out by scientists from the NIH, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the University of California, Los Angeles, and Princeton University. (IANS)

Next Story

The Effects of Social Distancing and Isolation

How Social Distancing Can Impact Your Mental Health

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social distancing
Mental health of many people, especially extroverts has been affected due to social distancing. Pixabay

By Dora Mekouar

Social distancing and isolation can be hard, as New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo recently pointed out during a daily briefing on the status of COVID-19 in his state.

“Don’t underestimate the personal trauma, and don’t underestimate the pain of isolation. It is real,” Cuomo said. “This is not the human condition — not to be comforted, not to be close, to be afraid and you can’t hug someone. … This is all unnatural and disorienting.”  

social distancing
Playground equipment is wrapped in crime scene tape to prevent its use as part of the effort to slow the spread of the coronavirus. VOA

Experts already know that years of loneliness or feelings of isolation can lead to anxiety, depression and dementia in adults. A weakened immune system response, higher rates of obesity, high blood pressure, heart disease and a shorter life span can also result.

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Children who have fewer friends or are bullied or isolated at school tend to have higher rates of anxiety, depression and some developmental delays.

But when it comes to a global pandemic like COVID-19, there is no documentation to which medical experts can refer.

social distancing
A man walks past a sign advistng social distancing at the Ferry Plaza Farmers Market in San Francisco. VOA

“The studies that we have are more about forced isolation and no support,” said Elena Mikalsen, chief of the Psychology Section at Children’s Hospital of San Antonio. “The situation we’re in now, there’s a lot of social support … and social support is one of the big predictors of good health and mental health outcomes.” 

She adds that it is helpful that the entire world is basically in the same situation, a commonality that is leading to the rapid development of coping strategies from multiple sources, including friends, schools and businesses.

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During this period, Mikalsen is advising her patients to stay connected with people,  exercise regularly, and keep to a schedule so that everybody in the household has some sort of purpose in their day. Waiting around and worrying about getting sick can lead to increased anxiety.

A key factor driving people’s decisions on whether to isolate could come down to personality.

social distancing
A Pittsburgh Public Works employee removes a basketball rim from a court on the Northside of Pittsburgh, Monday, March 30, 2020. The rims were removed because people were not following social distancing rules while using the courts over the weekend. VOA

“Extroverts have this strong need to always be around other people. … The idea of being in a quiet place with no entertainment is extremely anxiety provoking,”  Mikalsen said. 

“Versus, you know, an introvert is perfectly happy in a tiny little room with nothing. You can lock up an introvert in a New York City apartment and have them not come out for two months and they’ll be perfectly happy.”

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Meanwhile, Cuomo told reporters that he is focusing on the positives in the current situation, like having his grown daughter, Cara, 25, working with him during the crisis.

“They’ll come for the holidays. They’ll come when I give them heavy guilt,” he said of his three grown daughters. “But I’m now going to be with Cara, literally, for a few months. What a beautiful gift that is, right? I would have never had that chance, and that is precious. … This crazy situation, as crazy as it is, gave me this beautiful gift.”  (VOA)