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COVID-19 virus can survive on smartphone screens for 28 days, claim researchers

Cleaning the gadgets that you and others touch, along with regular handwashing, is a must.

Are you still washing your hands often and cleaning your phone screen and other gadgets regularly, or has that habit slipped? With the COVID-19 virus still burning its way through the population, it's a bad time to let good habits slide, especially given the results of a new study by Australian researchers.

The findings, published in Virology Journal, suggest that the SARS-Cov-2 virus responsible for COVID-19 can last for almost a month on glass, stainless steel, and both paper and polymer banknotes if kept at ambient temperature and humidity (20 °C and 50 percent RH).

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According to the paper, "the persistence of SARS-COV-2 on glass and vinyl (both common screen and screen protector materials) suggest that touchscreen devices may provide a potential source of transmission, and should regularly be disinfected especially in multi-user environments."

It's not just glass surfaces either. Banknotes -- both the paper kind and the plastic polymer style used in countries such as the UK and Australia -- are also toxic hellstews.

"While other studies have shown that paper notes harbor more pathogens than polymer notes, this data demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 persists on both paper notes and polymer notes to at least 28 days at 20°C, albeit with a faster rate of inactivation on polymer notes."

A previous study had suggested that SARS-CoV-2 could survive for a few days on glass and banknotes, and up to six days on glass and stainless steel. Not as long, but think about how many times a surface could be touched in that time.

What does this mean?

Keep cleaning the devices you touch, and wash your hands regularly. 

Here's how Apple suggest you disinfect your iDevices and Macs, there are UV disinfection tools for smartphones and keys such as the KeySmart CleanTray or Monos CleanPod, and then there's the old stalwart -- soap and water.

For businesses, this is a wake-up call to take disinfecting hardware seriously. Regular cleaning of high-touch areas such as keypads is a good idea, as is making cleaning materials available to your staff to keep things clean. 

Totallee UV Phone Sanitizer (in pictures)

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