The coronavirus is spreading rapidly around the world and people are wondering: can the virus be infected via a mobile phone or headphones? The answer is yes.
Dr. Kristen Gibson, Associate Professor of Food Safety and Microbiology at the University of Arkansas, explains Heavy: “Your phone and headsets are surfaces and viruses, including coronaviruses, can be transmitted to these surfaces. If you touch an infected surface and then touch the phone, the virus may be on your phone and eventually be transmitted to you when you touch your face.
Recent research has shown that according to NPR, the corona virus can live for up to 72 hours on a plastic surface. (Read the study here.) Although WHO studies indicate that the estimated survival time of the corona virus is “a few hours to a few days”, this study is the first to test the virus that caused the current pandemic, according to NPR.
According to the CDC, the phone is a high-touch surface
The CDC regards mobile phones as a ‘high tactile’ surface, just like counters, worktops, door handles, sanitary facilities, toilets, keyboards, shelves and bedside tables. They recommend cleaning the “touch” surfaces daily.
Dr. Gibson tells Heavy: “I think multi-touch devices with touch screens are the biggest concern. Your personal phone or headset is not necessarily a big risk unless you share it with others. There are disinfection wipes that can be used on devices that contain isopropyl alcohol (which must contain more than 60%), although alcohol is not as effective against viruses as, for example, bleach.
The New York Times recommends using a soft cloth containing 70% isopropyl alcohol to disinfect the phone. Apple recommends Clorox wipes.
The New York Times writes: “…don’t forget your phone cover. Wipe it clean from top to bottom. Let it dry before you put it together. You might also consider changing your behavior a little. AT&T suggests sharing photos via text message instead of transferring the phone, and using devices such as headsets and technologies such as Bluetooth to keep the phone away from your face.
The virus is usually spread via respiratory droplets
The Washington Post admits that although a person may become infected on the day after contact with the surface or spread the virus, it is much less likely than in the first few hours after sneezing. The most common way the virus spreads is through respiratory drops, which form when a person coughs or sneezes and are then inhaled into the lungs of people nearby.
Vincent Munster, head of the viral ecology department at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, told The Washington Post, “The risk of infection through these transmission routes decreases over time …. This window of infection is greatest in the first 10 minutes or an hour or two.
Currently, social distance is used to stop the transmission of the coronavirus. This usually means that the distance between you and the next person is at least two metres.
Nancy Messonnier of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention reports in Stat News: “If the epidemic continues, many people in the United States will be exposed to the virus this year or next year…. And there is a good chance that many of them will become ill.
Precautions such as washing hands, avoiding crowds, using hand cleansers, avoiding contact with the eyes, nose and mouth, and storing medication and food are recommended.