New Delhi | Jagran Lifestyle Desk:  SARS-CoV-2, the virus strain that causes COVID-19 infection, remains active on human skin for nine hours, a study conducted by Japanese researchers have found. The latest findings underscore the importance of frequent hand washing to combat the Covid-19 pandemic. The pathogen that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison, said the study published this month in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal.

"The nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes Covid-19) on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV (influenza A virus), thus accelerating the pandemic," it said. The research team tested skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death.

Both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitisers.

"The longer survival of SARS-CoV-2 on the skin increases contact-transmission risk; however, hand hygiene can reduce this risk," the study said. The study backs World Health Organization guidance for regular and thorough hand washing to limit transmission of the virus, which has infected nearly 40 million people around the world since it first emerged in China late last year.

Ten months into the pandemic, handwashing with soap and other public health measures such as maintaining physical distance, practising cough etiquette and wearing a mask remain the best defense against coronavirus, the World Health Organisation said.

"Handwashing has always been one of the most effective ways of keeping diseases at bay. It is a simple act that pays in dividends when it comes to keeping ourselves healthy and safe. Handwashing is also one of the key cornerstones of COVID-19 prevention," said Dr Poonam Khetrapal Singh, the regional director of WHO South-East Asia Region.

The world health body said with COVID-19 transmission mainly spreading between people through direct, indirect -- through contaminated objects or surfaces -- or close contact with infected people via mouth and nose secretions, washing hands with soap and running water is of critical importance.

(with PTI inputs)

Posted By: Rakesh Kumar Jha