Important safety advice
26 March, 2020
• IMPORTANT advice on protection against Covid-19 comes from new research from the US National Institutes of Health and the European Food Safety Agency.
How long can the virus live and remain infective?
It is mainly distributed through the fine aerosol droplets that spray when an infected person coughs or sneezes.
The US advice says they can spread for two metres, the NHS is now recommending three, though the heavier droplets quickly fall to the ground.
The virus can survive in these droplets for up to three hours in the air. If the drops land on cardboard, the virus can still be detected up to 24 hours later.
This means that you might want to spray-disinfect packages, letters etc or just leave them unopened for a day.
Survival is much longer on plastic or metal surfaces – for example, kitchen worktops – up to 24 hours.
The good news is that it is easily killed. Ordinary kitchen cleaning sprays, or wipes though they are environmentally a menace, or bleach, or disinfectant, or 60 per cent alcohol are effective.
EFSA says there is no evidence it could be transmitted through eating; and in any case cooking kills the virus.
Emeritus Professor of Neuroscience, Open University