Common Items That Can Spread Coronavirus

  • A medical practitioner dressed in protective gear at Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.
    A medical practitioner dressed in protective gear at the Coronavirus isolation and treatment facility in Mbagathi District Hospital on Friday, March 6, 2020.
    Simon Kiragu
    Kenyans.co.ke
  • A recent study on the novel coronavirus (Covid-19) has revealed that the virus can survive on certain items for as long as three days. 

    On Tuesday, March 17, scientists from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) as well as the University of California, Los Angeles and Princeton revealed that steel, plastic and cardboard posed the greatest risk.

    As per the study, the virus can survive on plastic and stainless steel for three days and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.

    In the Kenyan context, there are at least five everyday items made from these materials that Kenyans will need to be wary of.

    A user browsing through a smartphone for news.
    A user browsing through a smartphone for news.
    Simon Kiragu
    Kenyans.co.ke

    1. Phones
    A report authored by the Communications Authority of Kenya in 2018 provided that 46.6 million Kenyans were active mobile subscribers. Phones are therefore one of the most highrisk factors in the spread as most budget phones have a plastic body.

    Only recent models have made changes in the market leaning towards metal and ceramic casing but are not in wide circulations in the country yet.

    2. Laptops 

    The risk posed by plastic is replicated at the work station with laptops and keyboards placing their users at a high risk as most spot plastic casings.

    To clean the electronics, use a soft cloth lightly dampened with disinfectant to wipe down the gadgets. The cloth should only be slightly damp and not wet.

    3. Desks

    Similarly, most desks and their countertops are made of a cardboard material that ranks them as a high-risk factor. It is important to wipe these down with a disinfected cloth at least at the beginning and end of each day.

    Items made from stainless steel also pose a significant risk of spreading the virus. In Kenya, matatus and kitchenware pose the highest risk.

    Motorists stranded On a stand still Traffic Jam Towards The CBD Along Busy Thika super Highway in Nairobi on Monday, November 11, 2019.
    Motorists stranded On a standstill Traffic Jam Towards The CBD Along Busy Thika super Highway in Nairobi on Monday, November 11, 2019.
    Simon Kiragu
    Kenyans.co.ke

    4. Bus Rails

    For most Kenyans travelling by public means, the handrails on buses that assist passengers alighting or getting on board pose the greatest danger.

    Public Service Vehicles (PSVs) were asked to put in place measures to ensure that these surfaces are regularly disinfected.

    However, as an extra protective measure, experts recommend that those using public means should disinfect their hands after coming into contact with these surfaces.

    5. Utensils

    Utensils pose another risk as most forks, spoons and knives are made of stainless steel. This especially applies to a communal environment like the workplace where these items are shared with other people.

    It is recommended that these items are regularly cleaned with soap and water to limit the spread of the virus.

    6. Staircase Rails

    It might be prudent to avoid holding on to the assistive metal bar that runs along most staircases. This is especially true in public places where they are used by a large majority of people. The metallic nature of these rails makes them a good conduit for the virus if they are not regularly disinfected.

    7. Lift Buttons

    Elevators have also been identified as a significant risk factor in the spreading the virus. Elevator bodies are constructed with stainless steel and experts recommend their limited use. However, if this is not practical, experts recommend that those using these amenities disinfect their hands after.

    Low-Risk Items

    The scientists have however allayed fears on items that do not pose a high risk of spreading the virus. Clothes, carpets and other rough surfaces were sighted as low risk.

    Food was also cited as not ranking as a major risk factor despite suspension on the sale of commodities such as miraa on the grounds that it would allow the spread of the virus.