Coronavirus can survive on the skin for up to nine hours, underscoring the importance of regular hand washing, Japanese researchers have found.
Scientists tested how long Sars-Cov-2 and flu survived on skin samples collected during autopsies.
They found that while the coronavirus survived for just over nine hours, the influenza A virus (IAV) was active for less than two.
"The nine-hour survival of Sars-Cov-2 on human skin may increase the risk of contact transmission in comparison with IAV, thus accelerating the pandemic," researchers from Kyoto Prefectural University of Medicine wrote.
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They said it increased the possibility of human contact transmission, although "hand hygiene can reduce this risk".
Both the coronavirus and influenza were killed within 15 seconds when ethanol, included in most hand sanitisers, was applied.
The research - published in the Clinical Infectious Diseases journal - reinforces general coronavirus health messages, as well as World Health Organisation guidance stressing the need for frequent hand washing.
A recent paper in the New England Journal of Medicine found the virus was detectable for up to 24 hours on cardboard and 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, while an Australian study published last week showed it lived for 28 days on glass in lab conditions.
"Studies of virus inactivation on various surfaces, including hands as here, are a necessary part of the overall picture of Sars-Cov-2 possible transmission routes," said Professor Ian Jones, a University of Reading virologist, who was not involved in the research.
"But it is always difficult to know how accurately model studies reflect real world situations," he added.