A study looked at how long the new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) which causes COVID-19 lives on human skin. Researchers in Japan used human cadaver skin (because they didn't want to infect living humans) to compare influenza and the new coronavirus. They found that coronavirus lives up to 9 hours on undisturbed skin! And influenza A virus (a flu strain) less than 2 hours.
They also found that both viruses are easily washed away with soap and water or a hand sanitizer containing 80% alcohol.
Yes, it is thought that aerosol and droplets are the main ways to get the new coronavirus. But you do want to wash it off your hands after exposure. Proper hand hygiene!
From Medscape: New Coronavirus Survives Nine Hours on Human Skin
Left undisturbed, the new coronavirus can survive many hours on human skin, a new study has found.
To avoid possibly infecting healthy volunteers, researchers conducted lab experiments using cadaver skin that would otherwise have been used for skin grafts. While influenza A virus survived less than two hours on human skin, the novel coronavirus survived for more than nine hours.
Both were completely inactivated within 15 seconds by hand sanitizer containing 80% alcohol.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention currently recommends using alcohol-based hand rubs with 60% to 95% alcohol or thoroughly washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds.
Studies have shown that COVID-19 transmission largely occurs via aerosols and droplets. Still, the authors of the new study conclude in a report published on Saturday in Clinical Infectious Diseases, "Proper hand hygiene is important to prevent the spread of SARS-CoV-2 infections."