How Long Can Novel Coronavirus Stay On Surfaces?

Scientists continue to explore how the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 affects people and spreads across communities. Now, a new study found that the virus could survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to three days, increasing the risk of infection. 

A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, shows that the novel coronavirus, called SARS-CoV-2, has a similar stability with the virus that causes SARS. The newly found virus can also float in the air for three hours.

That means that people could contract COVID-19 through exposure to aerosol and touching contaminated materials. Researchers said the virus "can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours and on surfaces up to days," CNN reported Thursday.  

The findings support early research in The Journal of Hospital Infection that suggested human coronaviruses could persist on inanimate surfaces, such as metal, glass or plastic, for up to nine days. 

Both studies provide vital information to the medical community. If doctors and other hospital staff perform an aerosol-generating procedure or activity in a medical facility, airborne particles are more likely to "stay in the air a little bit longer," according to Maria Van Kerkhove, an infectious disease epidemiologist at the World Health Organization (WHO). 

"As you know this is a virus that is transmitted through droplets and these are little pieces of liquid," she said during a media briefing on Monday. "When they come out of an infected person and individual, they go a certain distance and then they settle ... in that situation, in health care facilities, it's very important that health care workers take additional precaution."

Van Kerkhove noted more studies are required to fully understand how the novel coronavirus affects people. She said future efforts should continue investigating how long the virus can linger on surfaces and even in the air.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has released guidelines on disinfecting homes using soap, water and certain bleach solutions or alcohol solutions. The agency said cleaning should prioritize frequently touched surfaces and objects, such as light switches, doorknobs, tables and cabinet handles.

"It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads," the CDC said on its website.

Kitchen and COVID-19 A new study shows that the novel coronavirus causing COVID-19 could survive on plastic and stainless steel surfaces for up to three days, which increases the risk of infection. Pixabay

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