THE novel coronavirus can survive on certain surfaces, such as banknotes, phone screens and stainless steel for 28 days, a study by Australia’s national science agency found Monday, October 12.
Researchers at the Commonwealth Scientific and Industrial Research Organization (CSIRO) discovered that SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, was “extremely robust” on surfaces like stainless steel, glass, vinyl, and banknotes when kept at 20 degrees Celsius (68 F).
“It really reinforces the importance of washing hands and sanitizing where possible and certainly wiping down surfaces that may be in contact with the virus,” said Shane Riddell, the study’s lead researcher.
The study, published in the peer-reviewed Virology Journal, also found that the virus lasted shorter when the temperatures were hotter — at 30 degrees Celsius (80 °F), the virus survived for three days on cotton and vinyl, and seven days on glass, steel and polymer banknotes. At 40 degrees Celsius (104 °F), the virus didn’t last one day on cotton cloth.
“These findings demonstrate SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious for significantly longer time periods than generally considered possible,” the research noted.
The researchers stressed that the risk of infecting someone through surface transmission is dependent on several conditions.
“The makeup of the virus itself, the type of surface it is on and whether the virus is liquid or dried can impact the time it remains viable. Environmental conditions such as temperature, exposure to sunlight and humidity also play a part,” they said.
However, Prof Ron Eccles, former director of the Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, pointed out that the findings of the study was causing “unnecessary fear in the public.”
“Viruses are spread on surfaces from mucus in coughs and sneezes and dirty fingers and this study did not use fresh human mucus as a vehicle to spread the virus,” he said.
“Fresh mucus is a hostile environment for viruses as it contains lots of white cells that produce enzymes to destroy viruses and can also contain antibodies and other chemicals to neutralise viruses. In my opinion, infectious viruses will only persist for hours in mucus on surfaces rather than days,” he added.