[ Parent Question — Coronavirus: Justified Practical Advice Thread ]

Did everyone miss the big thing about your phone?

by jmh1 min read4th Mar 20203 comments

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Coronavirus
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Have not read through all the comments, and probably won't, so perhaps this has already been pointed out.

I don't see that my phone is any more at risk than my hands, I can wipe the desk down with a sterilizing wipe, and do the same with my phone if I want. I tend to keep my phone either in my hand or in a pocket when outside my house. So as far as I can see the phone is not more a threat than my hands.

However, I is not uncommon for me to have my phone touching or very near my face, ears, mouth.

Has anyone suggested using speaker and holding the phone away from your face? Or is the assumption that everyone just used wired or bluetooth headsets/earbuds with a mic?

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In my model, the threat of phones is that they undermine the benefit of washing your hands, because nobody washes their phones/pocket when they wash their hands. Picture the following scenario:

  1. You touch a contaminated surface

  2. You check your phone

  3. You wash your hands

  4. You check your phone

  5. You eat finger food.

You now have the virus, as it has piggy backed onto the back side of your phone. If you didn't have your phone, washing your hands would have been effective.

I agree with this, but one thing I wonder about -- how much virus is transferred at each stage? Viruses (unlike bacteria) strictly cannot reproduce outside the human body. So there should be a zero-sum (really negative-sum) process happening in these kinds of contamination events. You ought to end up with a lot less virus on your phone the second time, in the above sequence, than the first time -- right?

3jmh1yThis touches on something I've been wondering about -- but suspect it may well be a purely academic type question. Viral infections (possibly all infections) is largely a random chemical reaction that occurs. The virus has to randomly bump into the right type of cell (perhaps with the right orientation) and perhaps the right part of the cell. In fact, the virus could bump into something that effectively neutralizes the virus. So what are the probabilities for that event? Given the infection rates, clearly the combination of both the quantity of viruses and the probability of success for any given virus is pretty high. But still, I wonder about the one virus probability of success. Then we would also have some clue about just how far we can expect all the hygiene effort is really going to accomplish.