Hygiene management
14.12.2020

Digital devices as virus reservoirs

A recent study review indicates that SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious on glass, e.g. mobile phone and tablet displays, for up to 28 days at 20°C. This means that there is a significant risk of transmission of the viruses to the hands of staff and from there to other surfaces or persons.

EThe risk of SARS-CoV-2 transmission comes principally from aerosols. Studies have shown that the viruses can remain infectious in tiny droplet particles for longer than 3 hours. The role of surfaces contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 in the spread of the virus is not yet fully understood, but there are many documented cases of cross-contamination with other viruses. The transmission rate of noroviruses from contaminated surfaces to the hands, for example, is put at 40% in one study [1]. Surfaces with frequent skin and hand contact, such as touchscreens of smartphones, buttons for operating vending machines or elevators, as well as surfaces in the proximity of patients, are often found to be contaminated with viruses and bacteria.

Risks from smartphones underestimated

Current studies by Ridell et al. on the survivability of SARS-CoV-2 on glass and plastic show that the viruses remained infectious for up to 28 days at 20°C [2]. Displays of digital devices thus pose a potential transmission risk. However, the risk of infection from mobile devices is underestimated by health workers. Only about 8% of doctors who use their smartphones frequently disinfect them regularly.

Therefore, it is essential that electronic devices are not neglected in the daily disinfection of surfaces in the proximity of patients.

As an element of patient care, these surfaces should be wipe-disinfected at least once a day with a suitable surface disinfectant:

Work surfaces Treatment
couches
 
Bed frames Monitors Displays Keyboards Control panels

Winter viruses and how they differ

In addition to SARS-CoV-2, other highly infectious viruses such as noroviruses and influenza viruses must also be increasingly expected in the winter months. While SARS-CoV-2 and influenza viruses, as enveloped viruses, are easily inactivated using disinfectants with “limited spectrum virucidal activity”, noroviruses require disinfection with products in the “limited virucidal activity PLUS” category. You can find out more about the differences between the viruses in our infographic “Viruses in comparison”.

Download infografic [PDF]

Sources:

1. Kampf G. Flächendesinfektion. Krankenhaushygiene up2date 8; 2013. DOI http://dx.doi.org/10.1055/s-0033-1359050
2. Riddell, S., Goldie, S., Hill, A. et al. The effect of temperature on persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on common surfaces. Virology Journal 17, 145 (2020).

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