We know coronavirus is mainly spread from person-to-person via close contact throughout droplets which contain the virus. COVID-19 can spread through physical contact like handshaking and kissing, and it can also spread through these respiratory droplets produced when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
There is still plenty we don’t know about the illness, but as we learn more, one thing we do know is that we can catch the infection by touching surfaces contaminated with COVID-19.
For example, traces of the virus were found in the cabins of infected passengers on board the Diamond Princess cruise ship, including symptomatic and asymptomatic individuals, up to 17 days after their cabins were vacated, according to research by the Centre for Disease Control (CDC) in the US.
The CDC later tweeted: “Live, infectious virus was NOT found. The authors’ finding does not indicate SARS-CoV-2 was transmitted from these surfaces.”
The virus can easily get onto our clothes if we cough into our elbow or sleeve, or if other people around us cough, sneeze and talk.
The highly infectious nature of the disease is why social distancing rules are in place worldwide.
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Clothes, towels, and other fabric materials can harness germs and spread infections.
However, the good news is recent research suggests COVID-19 may not last that long on our clothes.
Harvard Health says the disease is more likely to survive on a hard surface than a soft surface like fabric.
Preliminary research has suggested the virus can survive longer on harder surfaces like plastic and metal, this could be from a few hours to several days.
A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine revealed plastic is the surface the virus remains viable on for the longest, which is up to 72 hours.
On stainless steel the virus was detected up to 48 hours after application.
For cardboard it was 24 hours and for copper the virus lived just four hours.
The World Health Organization (WHO) estimates the lifetime of the disease is between a few hours and a few days, but this is still subject to research to come in the coming weeks and months.
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As of yet there is no clear research on how long coronavirus can live on fabrics like clothing, towels and bedding.
It is okay to wash your clothes with the clothes of an infected person, as the detergent and heat from the washing machine will kill the pathogen.
However, it is best to be careful if you are caring for a sick person and are handling their washing.
The official advice from the UK Government is still to wash your hands often and to practice social distancing guidelines that are now in place across much of the world.
Minimising of contact with others is beginning to make changes to how the pandemic is progressing throughout the UK, as the rate of infection is beginning to slow.
However, the UK is not yet up for changing its lockdown policy as it could undo all the work already done.
First Secretary Dominic Raab said during Monday’s daily press conference: “We don’t expect to make any changes to the measures currently in place at that point and we won’t until we’re confident, as confident as we realistically can be, that any such changes can be safely made.”
He told the news conference that easing restrictions too early would “risk a second wave” of infections.
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