In a new study, researchers found that the new coronavirus remains active on human skin for nine hours.
The virus that causes the flu survives on human skin for about 1.8 hours by comparison.
The finding showed the need for frequent hand washing to combat the COVID-19 pandemic.
The research was conducted by a Japanese team of scientists.
In the study, the team tested skin collected from autopsy specimens, about one day after death.
They found the new coronavirus could survive on skin five times longer than the flu.
They suggest that the nine-hour survival of SARS-CoV-2 (the virus strain that causes COVID-19) on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with influenza A virus, thus accelerating the pandemic.
The team also found both the coronavirus and the flu virus are inactivated within 15 seconds by applying ethanol, which is used in hand sanitizers.
This finding backs World Health Organization guidance for regular and thorough hand washing to limit transmission of the virus.
The team says the longer survival of SARS-CoV-2 on the skin increases contact-transmission risk; however, hand hygiene can reduce this risk.
COVID-19 virus has infected nearly 55 million people around the world since it first emerged in China late last year.
The study is published in Clinical Infectious Diseases.
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