Coronavirus: It's now ok to disinfect iPhones, Apple says

This Tuesday, Oct. 8, 2019, photo shows the Apple Pay app on an iPhone in New York. (AP)

Apple now says it is ok to use disinfectant wipes to clean iPhones and other gadgets, a reversal from their previous advice saying cleaning products could damage the special coating on screens that helps prevent fingerprints.

Coronaviruses, the family of virus the novel coronavirus belongs to, can live on some surfaces for up to nine days, and on glass – like that on an iPhone – for up to five days, a new study found.

Apple’s new guidelines say that smartphones should be wiped down “Using a 70 percent isopropyl alcohol wipe or Clorox disinfecting wipes,” the company's website says. It also says to avoid using bleach.

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However, disinfectants with just 0.1 percent sodium hypochlorite – commonly known as bleach –or 62-72 percent ethanol significantly limits coronaviruses’ effectiveness on a surface within one minute of a cleaner being used, the study published in the Journal of Hospital Infection in January found.

The study found that coronaviruses at room temperature can last for two days on steel; four days on wood and glass; and five days on metal, plastic, and ceramics. One strand of coronavirus lived up to nine days on plastic. On some surfaces it lasts only a matter of hours; on aluminum it lasts between two and eight hours, and on latex less than eight hours.

The virus can live on most everyday items for days, making disinfecting surfaces like remotes, light switches, desks, doorknobs, shopping carts, and tables an important preventive measure.

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“If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others. Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose,” World Health Organization guidelines on the matter say.

When a person touches a surface where the virus is present and then touches their face, the virus can infect that person.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) recommends that "high-touch surfaces," like doorknobs, be cleaned and disinfected daily. Cleaning is the removal of germs and dirt from sufraces, where disinfecting refers to using chemicals to kill germs on surfaces after it has been cleaned.

The most recent coronavirus, COVID-19, that originated in China, is the third outbreak of such a virus in the last two decades. SARS and MERS, the other coronaviruses, have helped scientists learn about the family of viruses, and their findings are likely applicable to the latest outbreak, the study’s authors reported.

To date, the virus has infected over 113,000 people globally and has killed over 4,000.

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Last Update: Tuesday, 10 March 2020 KSA 14:33 - GMT 11:33
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