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While everyone knows the Coronavirus can live on surfaces for a while, we now have some concrete numbers as a result of a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine.
“Our results indicate that aerosol and fomite transmission of HCoV-19 is plausible, as the virus can remain viable in aerosols for multiple hours and on surfaces up to days.”
The Coronavirus can live for up to:
- 72 hours on plastic and steel
- 24 hours on cardboard
- 4 hours on copper
- 30 minutes in the air
What does this mean?
Apparently, the Coronavirus can live on some surfaces for 3 days.
The good news?
Experts still believe getting infected by touching surfaces that contain traces of the Coronavirus is low.
Regarding the air, these findings of the study are inconsistent with the World Health Organization’s position, that the virus is not airborne.
According to this study, if the virus becomes suspended in droplets smaller than 5 micrometers (for example a sneeze), it can stay in the air for 30 minutes before drifting down to surfaces.
However, the risk of being infected by the virus this way appears to be low.
Until more experiments and studies are completed, there are still many unknowns and unconfirmed suspicions.
“Everything at the grocery store and restaurant takeout containers and bags could, in theory, have the infectious virus on them,” said Dr. Linsey Marr, who was not a member of the research team but is an expert in the transmission of viruses by aerosol at Virginia Tech in Blacksburg. “We could go crazy discussing these ‘what-ifs’ because everyone is a potential source, so we have to focus on the biggest risks. If people are concerned about the risk, they could wipe down packages with disinfectant wipes and wash their hands.”
Staying home with your family, isolating yourself if you are sick, washing your hands, are all effective and productive strategies.
When do things get dangerous?
When people act irrational and buy up supplies, they don’t need and cause shortages.
We’ve all seen the memes of the “chronically, cowardly inconsiderate” individuals buying 300 rolls of toilet paper, but shortages become very serious when health professionals are running out of supplies of surgical masks and respirators, despite pleas from experts not to buy them.
Bottom line, be aware but don’t panic.
Check out the full study here.