What surfaces does the novel coronavirus stick to, and for how long?
As the novel coronavirus accelerates across the United States, and we continue to practice social distancing, you might find yourself staring at countertops, door handles, and packages wondering if they’re safe to touch, or whether they could use one extra Clorox wipedown.
While SARS-CoV-2 spreads most effectively from person-to-person, if you touch surfaces you fear could be contaminated, avoid touching your face because you can infect yourself through your mouth, nose, and eyes. And wash your hands as soon as possible as washing your hands thoroughly with soap destroys the virus.
And while there is limited scientific literature on the subject of what surfaces the novel coronavirus lingers on the longest, we’re here to address what we do know about how long the virus can exist on different surfaces.
One study from the National Institutes of Health (that at the time we published this was available in preprint) examined how long can the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can remain viable on a few common “fomites,” or materials which can transmit the infection.
The fomites that were tested include copper, stainless steel, cardboard, and one of the most common plastics called polypropylene, which is used to package food, for tote bags, and exists in many kitchen items.
Find out where the virus tends to linger and for how long in this Elements.
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The coronavirus can live for three days on some surfaces, like plastic and steel, new research suggests. Experts say the risk of consumers getting infected from touching those materials is still low, although they offered additional warnings about how long the virus survives in air, which may have important implications for medical workers.
Interim Recommendations for US Households with Suspected/Confirmed Coronavirus Disease 2019
Community members can practice routine cleaning of frequently touched surfaces (for example: tables, doorknobs, light switches, handles, desks, toilets, faucets, sinks) with household cleaners and EPA-registered disinfectants that are appropriate for the surface, following label instructions. Labels contain instructions for safe and effective use of the cleaning product including precautions you should take when applying the product, such as wearing gloves and making sure you have good ventilation during use of the product.
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