The highly contagious novel coronavirus that has exploded into a global pandemic can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days, according to a new study that should offer guidance to help people avoid contracting the respiratory illness called COVID-19.
It is detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), a part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, tried to imitate the virus deposited from a contaminated particular person onto on a regular basis surface in a family or hospital setting, equivalent to by coughing or touching objects.
The new coronavirus was viable up to 72 hours after being placed on stainless steel and plastic.
Coronaviruses are known for their durability in this way, and the research published to The New England Journal of Medicine demonstrates that SARS-CoV-2 is no exception.
Emerging evidence suggests that people infected with SARS-CoV-2 might be spreading a virus without recognizing, or prior to recognizing, symptoms.
Scientists under the NIH in the United States compared how the environment would affect SARS-CoV-1 (the virus that causes SARS) and SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19).
"These results echo those with SARS-CoV-1, in which these forms of transmission were associated with" hospital spread and "super-spread events", in which one case can trigger dozens or hundreds of cases, the researchers wrote.
Fine droplets between 1-5 micrometres in size - about 30 times small than the width of a human hair - can remain airborne for several hours in still air. Scientists were disappointed by that similarity, as it fails to explain why COVID-19 has become the massive pandemic that it has. While SARS-CoV-1 (the virus that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome) infected over 8000 people in 2002 and 2003, the virus was subsequently contained before reaching anything approaching the spread of SARS-CoV-2.
The study team compared the environmental qualities of SARS-CoV-2 with those of SARS-CoV-1. But, health care settings are also sites for secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2, given the stability of the virus on surfaces and in aerosols. The stability of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols on surfaces is likely to contribute to the transmission of this virus in healthcare settings.
Avoid touching your eyes, nose, and mouth.
Stay home when you are sick.
Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash.
In its guidelines on disinfect a house if someone is sick, the CDC encourages the cleaning and disinfection of surfaces and frequently touched objects, such as tables, counters, light switches, door handles and cabinet handles.