Novel coronavirus has affected each and every aspect of our lives and changed the way we lead our lives. However, little changes have we made to the way to attach ourselves to our mobile phones. It is about time we realize that even mobiles can be implicated in transmission of the novel coronavirus or COVID-19 infections.
The most common mode of transmission of COVID-19 is droplet transmission which occurs when person is in close contact, within 1 meter distance with someone having respiratory symptoms of COVID-19 like cough and cold. Transmission may also occur through fomites in immediate environment around the infected person. Fomites are the inanimate objects which are likely to carry infection like, door handles, table surfaces, mobile phones, elevator buttons, etc. that can become contaminated with virus causing COVID-19 and thereby facilitate the transmission of disease to another person. Viruses may remain in these surfaces ranging from a few hours to multiple days.
In the wake of the novel coronavirus infections, World Health Organization has highlighted the importance of hand washing. Hand washing is considered as the single most effective preventive measure to control COVID-19 besides using masks in public spaces. People have thereby become wary of getting their hands dirty and are afraid of touching random surfaces. But are we doing the same with our mobile phones which is one of the highly touched surfaces. According to Kings University online, on an average people touch their phones 2,617 times per day. Many past studies conducted with regards to the contamination of mobile phones concluded that mobile phones are often highly contaminated with microorganisms like bacteria and viruses. The risk of contaminated mobile phones is much higher in hospital settings which may explain increasing number of healthcare workers getting infected with COVID-19.
We often carry our mobile phones in our hands, put them on different surfaces and use them regularly. Moreover the surfaces of mobile phone directly come in close contact with face, nose and mouth when we make a phone call. Washing hands and sanitizing them regularly can keep us from transmitting the virus. Have you ever wondered on ways we prevent the transmission of infection from our mobile phones?
There are few guidelines we can follow to decrease the risk to contamination of mobile phones during this pandemics and transmission of infection from them.
1.Limit using mobile phones especially in hospital settings, and wash your hands regularly.
2. Avoid putting phones on any random surface in public places and hospitals.
3.Use speaker mode or headset while making phone calls to avoid direct contact of mobile phones to face.
4. Limit sharing of mobile phones with others.
5. Clean your phones regularly. Apple and Samsung have updated their website during this pandemics about how to safely clean mobile phones. Apple suggest disinfecting wipes like Clorex sheet while Samsung suggest 70% alcohol based solution to clean mobile phones.
It is about time we realize that mobile phones which we touch very often every day, has the potential to harbor pathogens and thereby transmit infection. So knowing various ways of limiting the risk of contamination of mobile phones and infection via mobile phones is of paramount importance as the coronavirus is here to stay with us for few more years if not remain indefinitely like the influenza virus.
Dr. Jyotshna Sapkota
Assistant Professor of Microbiology
Kathmandu Medical College
Gmail : firstname.lastname@example.org
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