The new coronavirus (COVID-19) can live in the air for several hours and on some surfaces for up to two to three days, according to tests conducted by US government scientists and other experts.
Their work, published Wednesday, indicates that the virus can spread through the air and also by touching objects contaminated by others who have it, in addition to transmission from person to person.
Since it emerged in China late last year, the new virus has infected more than 120,000 people worldwide and caused more than 4,300 deaths, far more than the SARS outbreak caused by a generically similar virus.RELATED
For this study, the scientists used an aerosol to throw samples of the virus into the air, mimicking what might happen if an infected person coughs or otherwise releases the virus into the air.
The study concluded that the viable virus can be detected up to three hours later in the air, up to four hours later in copper, 24 hours on a cardboard surface, and up to two or three days in plastic and stainless steel.
Similar results were obtained in tests conducted with the virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2003, so differences in virus durability do not explain the much wider spread of COVID-19.
The tests were conducted by scientists at the National Institutes of Health, Princeton University and the University of California, Los Angeles, with funding from the National Science Foundation.
The findings have not yet been reviewed by other scientists and were posted on a portal where scientists can quickly share their work before publishing it.
“It is solid work that answers questions that people have been asking,” and shows the value and importance of the hygiene tips that health authorities have been highlighting, said Julie Fischer, professor of microbiology at Georgetown University. .
“What we should do is wash our hands, aware that people who may be infected could be contaminating surfaces,” and keep our hands away from our faces, he said.