“The virus stays up to four days,” the discovery on the masks


Use the masks, or not? How much do they actually protect us from the risk of contracting Covid-19? These are just some of the questions asked by the Italians in these long Coronavirus emergency days.

Now that the lockdown measures have been relaxed, with the consequent start of Phase 2 and the gradual return to normal, it is more than ever essential to know how to use the personal protective equipment essential to reduce the danger of infection. In recent months there have been many opinions of experts: if on the one hand some have advised against the use of masks, considering them completely useless if worn by healthy people, on the other many have recommended their use, especially in closed spaces.

Determined to clarify, the Higher Institute of Health (ISS) addressed the topic in a study entitled “Interim Recommendations on the Sanitation of Non-Healthcare Facilities in the Current Covid-19 Emergency” published on its official website. In the document, which deals with various issues ranging from the cleaning of places and surfaces, with a description of the detergents and disinfectants to be used, to the various sanitization procedures available, we also talk about masks, highly recommended in the Phase 2.

The research team was particularly interested in how long the virus remained on devices once it entered contact with them. The result is disconcerting. On paper, Coronavirus is able to withstand a maximum of 30 minutes, on fabrics and wood one day, on banknotes and glass for 2 days, but on protective masks it can remain for 4 to 7 days. A distinction must be made. The study found that Covid-19 can infect the internal state of surgical masks for up to 4 days, while the outer layer can remain contaminated for up to 7 days. For this reason, therefore, it is important to be scrupulous.

“The data reported are the result of evidence from scientific literature, but should be declined according to environmental situations. For example, Coronaviruses resist better at low temperatures and in humid environments. The fact that they survive also does not in itself mean that transmit the disease: if there are few viral particles, in fact, the infectious load is less “Professor Paolo D’Ancona, epidemiologist of the ISS, explained to Tgcom24. “Unfortunately, however, it is not known what the minimum dose to infect is, also because it depends on immunitary defense of individuals. Therefore, you must always be very careful “, he added. It is very important, continued the doctor, to know how to treat the protective devices in the right way, once used. “The washable masks should be used only once and then immediately put in the washing machine, without placing them on the furniture. The disposable ones should be thrown into the unsorted collection immediately after use. In both cases they should be touched only on the elastic bands, washing before and after the hands Finally, be careful not to throw them on the ground, the infectious risk is minimal but the impact on the environment is high “, he has declared.

As for the procedures for cleaning objects and / environments, the ISS document also deals with the various ones methodologies, ranging from the simplest cleansing to sanitization, disinfection and sterilization. These are definitely better known terms in the health sector. What is important to keep in mind is that each procedure starts with cleansing, which consists in removing dirt and part of microorganisms both through mechanical action and with the use of detergent. We then proceed to sanitation, a“complex of procedures and operations of cleaning and / disinfection which also includes the maintenance of good air quality with the replacement in all environments”. By disinfection, on the other hand, we mean the treatment of objects and surfaces with products designed to reduce the microbial load.

For the treatment of surgical masks, the Koch Institute proposed dry steam (heat) for 30 minutes as a solution.

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