Although more people are being encouraged to work from home during the coronavirus outbreak, the nature of many people's jobs simply does not permit telework. This means that if only one person at work is diagnosed with the virus, the entire office or store might be forced to shut down.
To provide advice on how the contagion can be best avoided, the first installment in a new series in Nikkan Gendai (March 10) interviewed physician Yoshio Otani, director of a clinic in Tokyo's Ikebukuro district, who started off with this quote:
"Right now, smartphones are among the things that carry the greatest risk of spreading infections -- maybe even the worst."
Dr Otani bases this view on scientific evidence. According to research of coronaviruses (including previous contagions such as SARS and MERS) by a laboratory in Germany, a virus on the surface of a smartphone at room temperature can remain in an infectious state for up to a maximum of nine days.
It has also been determined that in addition to aluminum, plastic and glass, the virus can remain in an infectious state for between four to five days on such surfaces as wood and paper. Which just about covers everything.
What's more, it goes without saying that smartphone owners typically make use of their devices any number of times during the day, to send messages via Line, to view Facebook, read news or check weather updates. On top of those, they play games or touch the smartphone to sensors when making payments at convenience stores or when transiting rail station wickets.
Before and after touching their smartphone at the ticket gate, a person may have gripped a virus-contaminated hand strap while riding the train.
"It's something of a blind spot," says Otani. "So is the notion of washing one's hands, which is not something a person is able to do every five minutes."
Of course, people can sterilize their smartphones using wipes with a 70% alcohol solution. Types of viruses that have a membrane will lose their ability to infect with the application of alcohol, and the Wuhan coronavirus happens to be one of those types.
In addition to smartphones, Dr Otani warns that personal computers can be significant risk for spreading infection, even one that you use exclusively.
"Any number of times per day you're going to be pressing the buttons on elevators or using a photocopier, and so on," he says. "So you need to regularly sanitize your PC's keyboard along with your smartphone."
If possible, the doctor adds, you should avoid touching doorknobs and handles with your hand or fingers, but use your wrist.
Even without those disposable alcohol wipes -- which along with face masks and hand sanitizer liquid are sold out practically everywhere right now -- there are still precautions you can take. So along with following the recommendations by the Ministry of Health, Labor and Welfare to regularly wash your hands, do what you can to keep your smartphone and PC's keyboard virus free.© Japan Today