The Federation have been asked to investigate the potential for a recovery driver catching the Coronavirus (Covid-19) from a vehicle that he or she is collecting from a person identified as carrying the illness.
It must be made very clear that BVSF staff are NOT experienced or medically trained so are relying on information found and received when investigating this potential and cannot be held responsible for any expert errors in this regard.
The new Coronavirus is, as we know, a respiratory illness, which means it typically spreads when an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets carrying viral particles can land on someone else's nose or mouth or get inhaled.
But, a person can also catch the new coronavirus if they touch a surface or object that has viral particles on it and then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The lifespan of the virus on a surface — a door handle, a stair banister, or even money — depends on many factors, including the surrounding temperature, humidity, and type of surface.
Although we are initially advised the likely lifespan is only hours to perhaps a day, the variables can make the life expectancy, potentially a lot longer.
How long the coronavirus survives on surfaces
A study recently published in the Journal of Hospital Infection looked at the lifespans of other coronaviruses found in humans on various surfaces. The SARS coronavirus for example, at a temperature of 20 degrees Celsius, lasted for two days on steel, four days on wood and glass, and five days on metal, plastic, and ceramics. (The researchers also found that one strain of SARS lasted up to nine days on a plastic surface at room temperature.)
It is suggested that these timescales are likely to apply to the new coronavirus, since smooth, nonporous surfaces like doorknobs and tabletops are better at carrying viruses in general. Porous surfaces — like money, hair, and fabric — don't allow viruses to survive as long because the small spaces or holes in them can trap the microbe and prevent its transfer.
Your smartphone, with all its glass and aluminum, can also carry viral particles.
On the basis of the above it would appear that a vehicle could conceivably pose a danger to a recovery staff member for a week, perhaps even a little longer after having an infected person within it sneezing/coughing etc etc.
As members of the Federation it is up to you how you deal with this potential timescale as of course you will not be sure when the last time a carrier of the illness will have been in the car potentially leaving the virus in there.
The surrounding temperature makes a big difference
The recent study also found that spikes in temperature made a difference in the lifespans of coronaviruses. An 10-degree Centigrade jump, from 20 degrees to 30 degrees, decreased how long SARS lasted on steel surfaces by at least 50%.
That's because some coronaviruses, including this new one, have a fat layer that protects viral particles when traveling from person to person in the air. That sheath can dry out, however, killing the virus. So higher humidity, moderate temperatures, low wind, and a solid surface are all good for a coronavirus' survival which of course could be a problem for members when getting into a car owned or used by a Coronavirus sufferer.
This also explains why respiratory viruses are typically seasonal as cooler temperatures help harden the protective gel-like coating that surrounds the particles.
How to disinfect surfaces
The authors of the recent study noted that human coronaviruses could be "efficiently inactivated" on surfaces within one minute if they're cleaned with solutions containing 62% to 71% ethanol alcohol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite.
It is possible that these surface disinfectants could even work within 15 seconds according to experts but to get the kill rates advertised on the packaging, though, that usually involves waiting for several minutes — between five minutes and six minutes." BUT, how much of a car do you clean !!!
Stop touching your face, and wash your hands
The importance of washing your hands and not touching your face must be strongly emphasized— those are the best ways to minimize your chance of picking up the coronavirus from surfaces.
However, the “experts” advise that you cannot become infected through your hands alone so if you never touch your eyes, nose or mouth you will be far safer….how many of us can manage that though !
.BVSF…using widely available external information.