By Tara Rippin • 24 February 2021 • 17:33
Covid can survive on clothing for up to 72 hours warn scientists.
VIRUSES similar to the strain that causes Covid-19 can survive on clothing and transmit to other surfaces for up to 72 hours, scientists at De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) have warned.
In a study looking at how coronavirus behaves on three fabrics commonly used in the healthcare industry, researchers found that traces can remain infectious for up to three days.
Led by microbiologist Dr Katie Laird, virologist Dr Maitreyi Shivkumar and postdoctoral researcher Dr Lucy Owen, the research involved adding droplets of a model coronavirus called HCoV-OC43 – which has a very similar structure and survival pattern to that of SARS-CoV-2, which causes Covid-19 – to polyester, polycotton and 100 per cent cotton.
The scientists then monitored the stability of the virus on each material for 72 hours.
And the results showed that polyester poses the highest risk for transmission of the virus, with infectious virus still present after three days that could transfer to other surfaces.
On 100 per cent cotton, the virus lasted for 24 hours, while on polycotton, the virus only survived for six hours.
“When the pandemic first started, there was very little understanding of how long coronavirus could survive on textiles,” said Dr Katie Laird, Head of the Infectious Disease Research Group at DMU.
“Our findings show that three of the most commonly used textiles in healthcare pose a risk for transmission of the virus. If nurses and healthcare workers take their uniforms home, they could be leaving traces of the virus on other surfaces.”
Last year, in response to the pandemic, Public Health England (PHE) published guidance stating that industrial laundering should be used for healthcare worker uniforms but where it is not possible, staff should take uniforms home to be laundered.
Meanwhile, the NHS uniform and workwear guidelines state it is safe to wash healthcare workers’ uniforms at home, provided the temperature is set to at least 60°C.
However, Dr Laird raised concerns that the evidence that supported the above statements was mainly based on two outdated literature reviews published in 2007.
In response, she advised the government that all healthcare uniforms should be laundered in hospitals to commercial standards or by an industrial laundry.
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Tara Rippin is a reporter for Spain’s largest English-speaking newspaper, Euro Weekly News, and is responsible for the Costa Blanca region.
She has been in journalism for more than 20 years, having worked for local newspapers in the Midlands, UK, before relocating to Spain in 1990.
Since arriving, the mother-of-one has made her home on the Costa Blanca, while spending 18 months at the EWN head office in Fuengirola on the Costa del Sol.
She loves being part of a community that has a wonderful expat and Spanish mix, and strives to bring the latest and most relevant news to EWN’s loyal and valued readers.
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