How Long Does Coronavirus Live on Surfaces?

In a recent study published by the New England Journal of Medicine, researchers gave some insight on just how long the novel Coronavirus (COVID-19) can survive, and continue to be contagious, on different surface materials. The research was led by Dr. Vincent Munster of NIH’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), and the results were first published on March 17, 2020.

The surfaces included in the experiment are plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard. The scientists also suspended the virus in aerosols. “This technique was used to determine if the virus could linger in the air.” according to the U.S. National Institution of Health (NIH).

Plastic and stainless steel surfaces remained infectious with the Coronavirus for two to three days under the conditions of the experiment. “These times will vary under real-world conditions, depending on factors including temperature, humidity, ventilation, and the amount of virus deposited.”

Cardboard remained infectious for up to 24 hours, and copper for only 4 hours. Catching the Coronavirus through surface contact is contingent upon the virus getting through passages such as your eyes, nose, or mouth. So as long as you wash your hands often and avoid touching your face, the biggest danger is breathing the virus directly into your respiratory system.

The virus “was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours.” according to the results of the experiment. That means following in-home instructions given by the State is very important, because the Coronavirus can linger in the air even after the infected individual has left.

It is important to remember that the experiment did not include human test subjects, as that would be unethical. The NIH stated, “although the viruses were able to infect cells in the laboratory, how much the virus is likely to cause infections in people remains to be studied.”

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