Posted on Mar 23, 2020, 3 p.m.
Recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine has found that COVID-19 is stable for several hours to even days in aerosols and on surfaces; it was found detectable in aerosols for up to 3 hours, up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2-3 days on both plastic and stainless steel surfaces.
Scientists from the National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA, and Princeton Universities have discovered that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 can remain stable for long periods of time on surfaces and in aerosols. Their results may help to provide needed clues to the stability of SARS-CoV-2 which causes COVID-19, and suggests that people may be acquiring the virus through the air as well as after touching contaminated surfaces; this study has been shared widely after the researchers placed it on a preprint server to rapidly share their data with other colleagues.
The environmental effects of SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-Cov-1 which cause SARS were compared. SARS-CoV-1 is closely related to SARS-CoV-2, and regarding stability both behave similarly, but this fails to explain when COVID-19 has become a much larger outbreak.
This study mimics the virus after being deposited from an infected person to common everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting through coughing or touching objects, investigating how long the virus remains infectious on these surfaces. The scientists observed that the 2 viruses have similar viability, and that those infected may be spreading the virus without recognizing prior to displaying symptoms making control measures less effective. The stability of SARS-CoV-2 in aerosols and on surfaces is likely what is contributing to the transmission of the virus in any setting.
Their findings confirm the guidance issued from public health professionals for people to use precautions similar to those for influenza and other respiratory viruses to help prevent the further spread of SARS-CoV-2: avoid close contact with those who appear to be sick; avoid touching food, eyes, nose and mouth until your hands have been washed with soap and water; use a tissue to cover when you cough or sneeze and dispose of it into the trash; be sure to wash your hands frequently along with cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched objects and surfaces such as handles, door knobs, steering wheels, elevator buttons, ATM machines, store card terminals, stair railings, and counter tops among others.
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