How does the corona virus react to heating or freezing?

Here and in our newsletter, we regularly answer a question from our readers about the corona virus. You also have medical questions about Covid-19 or would like to know more precisely what economic, political or social effects the crisis will have on Germany and the world? Write to us at [email protected]

Reader Karlheinz Alger asks: How does the virus react to extreme heat or cold? He asks the question using the example of a bought leek with fresh viruses on it. You can now either cook it or freeze it in pieces. Are the viruses destroyed in both cases so that the leek can be eaten with confidence? The answer from Nina Weber, health editor at SPIEGEL: First of all, this is a very theoretical example. After all, an infected person should have actually touched and put vegetables in the shop, with so many viruses on their hands that someone else could now catch the leek.

Sars-CoV-2 spreads via droplet infection. If someone coughs, sneezes, or comes very close to someone else speaking, the virus can be passed on. Greasy infections are theoretically possible, but not the main mode of transmission.The Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) writes that there are currently no cases in which people have been infected by contaminated food. There are also no reports that other corona viruses can spread this way.

What about heat and cold? The heat from cooking destroys the virus, but freezing vegetables to fight viruses is not a sure strategy. Other corona viruses stay at minus 20 degrees for up to two years, writes the BfR. "Viruses can be stable longer in the cold," says Jonas Schmidt-Chanasit from the Bernhard Nocht Institute for Tropical Medicine in Hamburg. "But they can be destroyed when thawed." Repeated freezing and thawing could destroy the viruses – but who wants to eat the leek?

It is more important to pay attention to your own hand hygiene when cooking as well as in general.
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