Germ-busting copper could be the next weapon in the fight against deadly respiratory diseases such as pneumonia in hospitals.

The bug can survive for five days on everyday items such as tiles, glass, rubber and stainless steel, but ‘antimicrobial copper’ can kill it within a few minutes.

Now light switches, door handles and other surfaces could be replaced by copper, or copper alloys such as brass, after a study confirmed the metal’s antibacterial properties.

The research was carried out at the University of Southampton by scientists studying the spread of so-called animal coronaviruses.

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