A new study warns that some varieties of masks may allow the coronavirus to lurk in hiding for up to three days.
England’s De Montfort University in Leicester investigated how long the coronavirus can survive on commonly worn fabric.
The research team, led by microbiologist Dr. Katie Laird, virologist Dr. Maitreyi Shivkumar and postdoctoral researcher Dr. Lucy Owen, tested a virus similar to the coronavirus on polyester, a cotton-polyester blend and 100% cotton.
Polyester posed the highest risk. After three days, the virus was still present on the fabric and could be transferred to other surfaces, the research showed.
On the blend of polyester and cotton, the virus survived for six hours. But on fabric that was 100 percent cotton, the virus endured for 24 hours.
“When the pandemic first started, there was very little understanding of how long coronavirus could survive on textiles,” Laird, the head of DMU’s Infectious Disease Research Group, said.
“Our findings show that three of the most commonly used textiles in healthcare pose a risk for transmission of the virus.”
Masks are an integral part of President Joe Biden’s strategy to reduce transmission of the coronavirus.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, the president’s head COVID-19 adviser, has said Americans could be wearing masks through 2022.
So imagine how many masks are covered with Covid virus….and people wear the same one for days…???
— Tina Leigh (@TinaLei42705710) February 24, 2021
That’s Fauci for you. Sending mixed messages that don’t mean anything.
— John Frank (@JohnFrankReal) February 24, 2021
Laird’s research showed that not only can masks carry the virus, but there is also concern for the uniforms worn by health care workers.
“If nurses and healthcare workers take their uniforms home, they could be leaving traces of the virus on other surfaces,” she said.
The research also looked at whether washing machines eliminated the virus, and found that the virus cannot survive when the wash water is heated to at least 67 degrees Celsius, which is about 153 degrees on the Fahrenheit scale.
Laird noted her research found that current British guidelines would not eliminate transmission because they do not call for hot enough water when washing fabric.
“While we can see from the research that washing these materials at a high temperature, even in a domestic washing machine, does remove the virus, it does not eliminate the risk of the contaminated clothing leaving traces of coronavirus on other surfaces in the home or car before they are washed,” she said.
“We now know that the virus can survive for up to 72 hours on some textiles and that it can transfer to other surfaces too.”
“This research has reinforced my recommendation that all healthcare uniforms should be washed on site at hospitals or at an industrial laundry. These wash methods are regulated and nurses and healthcare workers do not have to worry about potentially taking the virus home.”
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