March 18 2020
Scientists have found that the Covid-19 coronavirus can survive on some surfaces for days or in the air for several hours.
A study, funded by the United States government yesterday published its findings which among others stated that the coronavirus had similar levels of viability outside the body to its predecessor that caused SARS.
Other factors such as its greater transmission between people with no symptoms means that the current pandemic could be much worse than the SARS outbreak of 2002-2003.
The findings by scientists from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), University of California, Los Angeles and Princeton were published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM).
Covid-19 was found to be detectable for up to four hours on copper and two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, and for up to 24 hours on cardboard.
The team who did the research used a nebulizer to simulate a person coughing or sneezing, and found that the virus became an aerosol (particles became suspended in the air) making it detectable for almost three hours.
The coronavirus is predominantly transmitted by respiratory droplets and in this form it is viable for only a few seconds after a person coughs or sneezes.
A study by a Chinese team last week found an aerosolized form of the coronavirus was present in the bathrooms of patients in a Wuhan hospital, as the virus is shed in stools.
The US team performed similar tests on the SARS virus, finding the two viruses behave similarly.
The new findings affirm guidance regarding social distancing, avoiding touching the face, covering one’s cough or sneeze and the need to frequently disinfecting objects using cleaning sprays or wipes.