Coronavirus: The unexpected item you could catch the deadly virus from

The first case of coronavirus was recorded on December 31 in Wuhan, China, and since then, cases have been recorded in 26 other countries around the world. In the UK, nine cases have been confirmed. The UK Chief Medical Officers have raised the risk to the public catching coronavirus in the UK from low to moderate, but the risk to individuals remains low.

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While researchers establish how exactly coronavirus is spread, it has been noted how similar viruses are spread in cough droplets.

These droplets can settle on surfaces, causing the virus to spread.

One surface which could prove particular troublesome is mobile phone screens.

Mobile phones have become an essential in most people’s every day life.

Last year it was revealed nearly three quarters of the world will use just their smartphones for internet.

But experts have warned of the circumstance when you could catch coronavirus from your device.

Dr Richard Dawood of Fleet Street Clinic said it’s possible to catch coronavirus from your mobile phone if someone else carrying the infection has handled it.

Professor Stephen Turner from Monash University added you could catch the virus from lending out your mobile phone to someone with the virus, they coughed and sneezed on it, and you then used it after them.

Dr Dawood advises using an alcohol or detergent-based screen cleaner to rid your phone of any germs.

Keeping your phone to yourself also wouldn’t be a bad idea.

Earlier this year, Dr Shikha Pitalia, GP and director at Pall Mall Medical, revealed a dirty phone screen can carry the flu virus. 

She told The Mirror: “The average Brit checks their phone every 12 minutes when they’re awake and coupling this with poor hand hygiene and a dirty smartphone screen creates the perfect storm for many of us to pick up the flu this winter.

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“Flu can be a serious condition, particularly for children, pregnant women and the elderly and we should all be taking simple yet effective steps in order to minimise the risk of us contracting or spreading the virus.”

Dr Pitalia’s team found phone screens can contain a range of nasty bugs, including those responsible for the common cold and flu, as well as pneumonia, strep throat, gastroenteritis and diphtheria.

They also found the average smartphone can carry 10 times as many germs as the typical toilet seat.

If the new coronavirus resembled other human coronaviruses, such as SARS and MERS, it could stay on surfaces for as long as nine days, according to a new study.

In the study, researchers analysed several dozen previously published papers on human coronaviruses (other than the new coronavirus) to find out how long they can survive outside the body.

They found these coronaviruses can linger on surfaces for over a week, but some of them don’t remain active for as long at temperatures higher than 86 degrees Fahrenheit (30 degrees Celsius).

Other ways to avoid catching or spreading coronavirus

There’s currently no vaccine for coronavirus, but the NHS advises you can help stop its spread by:

  • Covering your mouth and nose with a tissue or your sleeve (not your hands) when you cough or sneeze
  • Putting used tissues in the bin immediately
  • Washing your hands with soap and water often – use hand sanitiser gel if soap and water are not available
  • Trying to avoid close contact with people who are unwell

Symptoms of coronavirus to look out for

The main symptoms are:

  • A cough
  • A high temperature
  • Shortness of breath

Health officials advise to call 111 now if you’ve been:

  • To Wuhan or Hubei Province in China in the last 14 days (even if you do not have symptoms)
  • To other parts of China, including Macau and Hong Kong, in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if it’s mild)
  • To Thailand, Japan, Taiwan, Singapore, Republic of Korea or Malaysia in the last 14 days and have a cough, high temperature or shortness of breath (even if it’s mild)
  • In close contact with someone with confirmed coronavirus

You should not go to a GP surgery, pharmacy or hospital, stay indoors ad avoid close contact with other people.

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