The novel coronavirus (COVID-19) can live in the air for several hours and on some surfaces for so long as two to three days, tests by U.S. authorities and other scientists have discovered.
Their work, revealed Wednesday, does not prove that anyone has been contaminated through breathing it from the air or by touching affected surfaces, researchers mentioned.
Since emerging in China in late 2019, the new virus has contracted over120,000 people globally and caused more than 4,300 deaths—much more than the 2003 SARS caused by a similar virus.
For this study, researchers employed a nebulizer tool to place samples of the new virus into the air, imitating what might occur if an infected individual coughed or made the virus airborne some other way.
They discovered that the virus could be observed up to three hours later in the air, as much as four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and as much as three days on plastic and stainless steel.
Related outcomes were obtained from tests they performed on the COVID-19 that caused the 2003 SARS epidemic, so differences in the durability of the viruses don’t account for how far more extensively the new one has spread.
The tests had been executed at the National Institutes of Health’s Rocky Mountain Lab in Hamilton, Mont., by doctors from the NIH, Princeton University and UCLA, with funding from the U.S. government and the National Science Foundation (NSF).
The discoveries had been posted on the medRxiv website to discuss work that has not yet been evaluated by different scientists but could be quickly shared with other scientists.