COVID-19 is NOT Airborne (mostly)

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new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that COVID-19 can live in the air and on surfaces for hours and even days. The virus can stay alive for 4 hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard, 48 hours on stainless steel, and 72 hours on plastics.

This is significantly longer than its detectability as an aerosol in the air, as they showed it to only be present for 3 hrs in a perfectly still room.

So Should We Panic?

In one word, NO.

Firstly, while the COVID-19 virus may still be present on a piece of plastic after a day or so; what’s left is less than 0.1% of the original virus material. So we could say that while infection is possible, it is unlikely to happen with what’s left of the virus after a few days.

The only time the novel coronavirus is an aerosol is during COVID testing or in a hospital setting due to breathing related operations.

So, when someone coughs, sneezes or ‘sprays it rather than saying it’. They’re not releasing an aerosol of the virus into the air. They are putting droplets into the air. This means the virus is not floating around in the air itself, but in water molecules that are heavier than air. Because these droplets are heavier than the air someone has sprayed them into, they don’t go further than a meter from the sick person and they are quicker to settle down onto surfaces.

This is both a positive and a negative. The coronavirus loves to live in surfaces. Whether someone has sprayed COVID onto a surface or wiped it on after sneezing into their hands, that surface is now highly contagious for at least a day. This is how the virus mostly spreads.

That’s why you need to avoid unsanitized surfaces like the plague – because they are spreading the plague.

High Risk Surfaces

How to (not) Touch High Risk Objects

  • Use a clean tissue to create a barrier between the object and your hand

  • Use a pen to push the button

  • Tap your card don’t swipe it

  • Use your knuckles to push a button

  • Use your elbow to open a door

  • Avoid using your fingertips at all costs
  • Don’t accept objects from others
  • Don’t touch unsanitized public surfaces

A Story: Let’s Look at two real SA Banks

Bank 1 has its customers queuing out the door; they are observing proper social distancing and when they come into the bank; they take their temperatures and spray sanitizer onto their hands. Then they let their customers shuffle into the bank. So far so good, right?

Bank 1 now seems to believe their customers are cleared of the virus. People sit in the same plastic chairs that fifty other people have sat in just that day. They touch their faces; they touch the arm rests and they wait.

Then the customers of bank 1 are called to the front. They separate the staff from the customer by a plastic screen.

The customer is asked for their plastic covered ID booklet or card. They pass the little ID to the bank teller.

Bank 1‘s teller scrutinizes it close to their face. Then three or four face touches later they tap rhythmically into their keyboard – stopping often to re-examine the ID they hold.

The customer is now asked to place their thumb on the fingerprint scanner. Something 50 other people have also done just that day.

The teller is now satisfied and passes the ID back to the customer. The customer slips it back into their pocket and leaves, spraying their hands on the way out.

This bank has cross contamination coming out of every nook and cranny. If 1 asymptomatic customer comes in, the entire building, at minimum 25% of their staff and any unlucky customers, are at risk.

Now Let’s look at Bank 2

Bank 2 also has its customers queuing out the door; they are observing proper social distancing and when they come into the bank; they take their temperatures, spray their hands and then let their customers shuffle into the bank.

Bank 2 has no places for their customers to sit. They stand in an orderly queue on meter apart stickers on the floor.

One by one, customers are called to Bank 2’s open tellers. A staff member wipes down the countertop with disinfectant between each customer and then signals for the customer to approach.

When the customer needs to sign something, the teller wipes down their own hands and then the pen and gives it to the customer. They then wipe their hands again.

When the teller needs to see the customer’s ID they ask them to hold it up to the screen separating them. Whilst they hold it up, the teller takes down their details.

Once satisfied the teller sends the customer on their way. The cleaning staff wipe down the customer’s side of the countertop and the next customer is called.

This bank has successfully used proven scientific evidence to counteract the spread of the virus; to protect not only their customers but their staff as well.

Which bank would you choose?

These are real South African banks and these contamination & decontamination stories are happening right now to people you know.

The difference between Bank 1 & Bank 2 may seem like not that big of a deal. Bank 1 may seem better even. At least they let their customers sit, right? And having so much hand-sanitizer in Bank 2 just seems like a recipe for dry hands.

But actions have consequences. These banks, along with businesses and organizations across the country, need to pick a path. Either they adapt to the future; or they do the bare minimum to be in compliance with government regulations and they live in the past.

This would put not only their staff, themselves and their customers at risk but also all their families.

SA’s COVID-19 Peak

There will likely be 12 million COVID-19 infected South Africans by the end of the year. That is 1 in 4 people infected out of 57 million South Africans.

If you take a look at COVID peak in the left-hand picture, you can see that we will probably be at the top of the peak in September after which infections should go down in time for a second wave to hit in December.

This virus is not going away anytime soon.

Businesses have an obligation to not only test infected employees for the coronavirus but to make these small but meaningful changes.

What’s Epicentre Doing to Help?

Epicentre has lead the way in fighting South Africa’s infectious diseases for 20 years.

Thats why were leading the charge in protecting South Africans from the coronavirus using proven scientific methods.

We have launched our free membership program for testing for workplaces and organizations.

Members only pay for the testing they need and get much more than competitors can hope to offer their clients!

Epicentre is Offering Members:

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