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Here's why washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds protects you from the new disease

The worst enemy of the virus

The worst enemy of the virus

Even though a vaccine for the new virus is at least a year away, we all a way to fight the virus in our own homes: soap and water.
The soaps we use contain a class of compounds called surfactants, and they can neutralize germs in our skin such as the new virus pathogens with a crown-like structure and an outer membrane made of lipid molecules and proteins.

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Here's why washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds protects you from the new disease

Here's why washing your hands with soap for 20 seconds protects you from the new disease

https://news.northeastern.edu/2020/03/20/heres-why-washing-your-hands-with-soap-for-20-seconds-protects-you-from-covid-19/

news.northeastern.edu

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Key Ideas

The worst enemy of the virus

Even though a vaccine for the new virus is at least a year away, we all a way to fight the virus in our own homes: soap and water.
The soaps we use contain a class of compounds called surfactants, and they can neutralize germs in our skin such as the new virus pathogens with a crown-like structure and an outer membrane made of lipid molecules and proteins.

Washing our hands the right way

Hand-washing is one of the best ways to protect against the new virus. But it has to be done the right way.
You have to scrub your hands thoroughly with soap and clean water for at least 20 seconds. And make sure you cover all the important parts: palms, wrinkles, fingernails, between fingers, under rings, bandaids, or splints you may have on an injured finger.

Soap vs. hand sanitizer

Destroying the structure of viruses and other contaminations with soap and water is different than using disinfectants and sanitizers, which are designed to kill germs but not remove them from your skin.

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Spreading respiratory viruses

Our hands are the front lines in the war against the new virus.
Respiratory viruses (the new virus, the flu, and the common cold)  can be spread via our hands: We can pick up dro...

Prevention is essential
  • Wash your hands often for at least 20 seconds.
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
  • Clean and disinfect frequently touched objects.
  • Stay home when you are sick.
  • Contact a health worker if you have symptoms; fever and a dry cough are most common.
  • Don't touch your face.
  • Don't travel if you have a fever and cough.
The top way to clean our hands

Washing your hands with soap and water is the top way to clean our hands. If soap is not available, using a hand sanitizer with at least 60% alcohol can help.
When you wash your hands with soap and water, you’re wiping viruses off your hands and sending them down the drain. The whole process is actually annihilating the viruses, rendering them harmless.

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What we know

The virus that is causing the current outbreak is a respiratory one and spreads through droplet infection.

  • There have been no known cases of the virus spreading through "smear" inf...
Contaminated surfaces
  • The virus can be detected in aerosols (airborne droplets smaller than five micrometers) for up to three hours.
  • On copper, for up to four hours.
  • On cardboard, for up to 24 hours.
  • On stainless steel or plastic, for up to three days.

The virus particles on any surface decrease rapidly at the start, then slowly approaches zero over time.

Touching or eating contaminated food

If a food worker coughs over your food while preparing it, although really gross, your risk of contracting the disease that way is minimal.

According to a 2018 overview of respiratory viruses, the virus reproduces along the respiratory tract. It is a different pathway than the digestive tract food follows when you swallow it.

Even if you handle contaminated food and then deposit the virus along your respiratory tract, it's highly unlikely to get sick this way.

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Spreading and deactivation

The new virus spreads most commonly through invisible respiratory droplets sent into the air when an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets that can be inhaled by nearby people or land on surf...

Sticking in the air /on surfaces
  • The new virus is thought to persist in the air for up to 3 hours and for 2 to 3 days on stainless steel and plastic surfaces.
  • The new virus has been detected in feces, suggesting the virus could be spread by people who don’t properly wash their hands after using the bathroom.
  • There is no indication that it spreads through drinking water, swimming pools, or hot tubs.
Bleach and the outdoors
  • The disinfectant most commonly used outdoors is a diluted solution of sodium hypochlorite (household bleach). But it’s unclear whether bleach destroys viruses outside, and if it does kill them on surfaces it's unclear whether it would kill viruses in the air.
  • UV light seems to destroy the new virus as well. Bleach itself breaks down under ultraviolet (UV) light.