The new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is an RNA virus. The surface of the virus consists of a fatty membrane (lipid membrane), which contains the viral glycoproteins. These surface proteins are responsible for the crown-like structure (corona) on the surface of the virus, and enable the attachment of the virus to receptors on the cell surface.
Why does soap help?
The genome of the coronavirus is protected by proteins and the lipid membrane against nucleases, so that the genome remains intact and the ability to infect is maintained. However, the structure of the lipid membrane is dependent on moisture. If it dries out, the contagiousness of the virus is also greatly reduced.
Detergents, i.e. fat-dissolving soaps, also dissolve the lipid membranes. The coronavirus thus loses its ability to pass on infection. Thorough hand washing with soap and water for 30 seconds reliably deactivates the coronavirus. Mild, pH-neutral products are recommended for use on the hands. Antimicrobial soaps are unnecessary, since viruses cannot multiply outside of cells. Detergent-based household cleaner is recommended for cleaning surfaces.
Are disinfectants more effective than soap?
Alcohol-based disinfectants are also very effective for deactivating the coronavirus, but should be reserved for the medical field. In particular, disinfectants protect risk groups with pre-existing conditions or a weak immune system, as well as medical personnel. Soap is sufficient for general public use and at home.
The most important thing at the moment is to try to restrict the spread of the virus as much as we can. To do so, staff and students should take special care to observe the usual sneezing and coughing etiquette, good hand hygiene and keep their distance from sick people (approx. 1 to 2 metres). According to Professor Helmut Fickenscher, a doctor of infection medicine, these measures are very effective against the coronavirus. Soap is good at disabling it.
How can I protect others?
Always cough or sneeze into the crook of your arm or a disposable handkerchief. Dispose the handkerchief in the garbage immediately.
What should I do if I come from a risk area?
Persons who have stayed in a risk area or in a particularly affected area as defined by the Robert Koch Institute (RKI) within the last 14 days may not enter certain facilities, including the university, for a period of 14 days after returning from the risk area or the particularly affected area. Further information follow shortly.
What should I do, if I have had contact with an infected person?
You should call 116117 or your local health office immediately - even if you have no signs of illness. You will find the responsible health office in the database of the Robert Koch Institute (RKI):
Database of the Robert Koch-Institut (RKI).