Picture for illustrative purposes: a person typing on their mobile phone Image Credit: File photo

Dubai: Mobile phones are a pathway for coronavirus transmission and are likely to a be a ‘Trojan horse’ carrying the disease into your home without your knowledge, a Dubai Police scientist told Gulf News on Sunday.

Amid the global COVID-19 pandemic, which has infected more than 4.6 million to date, the scientist said phones were a major source of spread and contamination.

Major Dr. Rashid Al Ghafri

Major Dr. Rashid Al Ghafri, Director of Training and Development at the General Department of Forensic Sciences and Criminology at Dubai Police, conducted research with a group of scientists at a number of Australian universities that proved mobile phones represent a pathway for microbial transmission including COVID-19.

“We analysed different mobile phones and found hundreds of microbes on their surfaces,” said Al Ghafri. “Mobile phones carry infectious pathogens such as bacteria and viruses like COVID-19. Phones are likely to be ‘Trojan horses’ that contribute to community transmission in pandemics,” he added.

According to the research, this transfer of pathogens on phones poses a serious health concern among people as the infection maybe spreading via phones within workplaces, on public transport, cruise ships and in airplanes.

“Mobile phones generate heat while using and it stimulate the microbes to stay for longer and reproduce. Phones are likely to assist the spread of viruses including coronavirus,” he added.

The group of scientists reviewed all the studies and journals that analysed microbes found on mobile phones before publishing research conclusions in the Journal of Travel Medicine and Infectious Disease.

“Contaminated mobile phones pose a real biosecurity risk, allowing pathogens to cross borders easily,” said Al Ghafri. “If a person is infected with the virus, it is very likely their mobile phones will be contaminated as viruses can live on surfaces for a long time.”

Al Ghafri, said that between the research and the fact that on average humans touch their face hundreds times per day, the chances of infection with diseases like COVID-19 are extremely high.

“Before the coronavirus pandemic, people were rarely cleaning or disinfecting their phones, but now people are cleaning their phones on a daily basis and it became a habit,” he said.

How to stay safe

Everyone should consider their phone as an extension of their hand and bear in mind that it can transfer whatever is on your phone to your hand.

For that reason Al Ghafri advised that in addition to regularly washing your hands, you should also disinfect your phone with an alcohol-based sanitiser.

“Mobile phones and other touch screen devices should be decontaminated daily,” he said. “Use a 70 per cent isopropyl alcohol spray or other disinfection methods. Treat your phone always like a carrier of diseases,” he added.