There are claims circulating on social media that microwaving books prevents the spread of COVID-19. This is potentially dangerous, as books often contain metallic tags (Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) tags), which may burn if microwaved.
The major transmission route for the COVID-19 virus is through droplets generated when a person coughs or sneezes. These droplets can be breathed in by, or land on, others nearby. Droplets may also land on nearby surfaces that others then touch. So when people touch their eyes, nose or mouth after touching these surfaces, they can potentially become infected.
We are not certain how long SARS-CoV-2 can survive on surfaces, but as a guide, a recent study found that the coronavirus can survive for up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel.
In public libraries, there are protocols in place to quarantine books for 72 hours once returned by members of the public (Guidelines for handling physical materials in the library during COVID-19)
The Department of Education and Skills offers advice on sharing books in school. In summary:
Research on the Coronavirus is rapidly evolving. However, we were unable to identify any ongoing or planned research to examine if microwaving books prevents the spread of COVID-19.
To prevent the spread of COVID-19, proper hand washing, respiratory hygiene and social distancing should be practised.