A new study has found the coronavirus can survive on plastic-made electronics, such as a keyboard or mouse, for up to three days, and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
On Tuesday, researchers from the National Institute of Health, the CDC, and UCLA published a study that confirms the coronavirus strain, COVID-19, can spread on surfaces. The study was conducted by placing a sample of the virus on different materials. The researchers found that COVID-19 can survive with enough “viable virus” on plastic for up to 72 hours and on cardboard for up to 24 hours.
As a result, it’s a good idea to regularly clean your electronics amid the ongoing outbreak, which has now infected more than 6,519 people in the US. We also recommend you thoroughly wash your hands after you open any cardboard packaging.
The study also found the coronavirus can survive on steel for up to 48 hours, and on copper for up to four hours. However, it’s important to note, the experiments were conducted at room temperatures, specifically at 21 to 23 degrees Celsius (69.8 to 73.4 degree Fahrenheit) in relative 40 percent humidity. So it remains unclear how long the virus will survive in other temperatures. But doctors have told PCMag they suspect the virus dies more rapidly in hotter environments and in the presence of sunlight.
Unfortunately, the researchers didn’t test COVID-19 on glass. But the study found the virus’ survivability was similar to another coronavirus strain, SARS, which caused a separate outbreak in China back in 2002-2003. Past research on SARS has found it can survive on glass for up to four days at room temperature.
Interestingly, the researchers also decided to distill the illness into an aerosol spray and fire it into a rotating drum, to keep the virus suspended in mid-air. In that aerosolized environment, COVID-19 can survive for up to three hours, the study found.
However, this doesn’t mean you should worry about COVID-19 lingering through the air for hours at a time. On Twitter, one of the researchers behind the study, Neeltje van Doremalen, said the experiment was “not evidence of aerosol transmission.”
“I don’t think it is normally transmitted via aerosols. But sometimes, health care workers perform aerosol-producing procedures, like intubation. In that situation, it could be important to be aware of viability in aerosols,” she added in a separate tweet.
According to public health authorities, the virus is likely spreading when someone sneezes or coughs, creating “respiratory droplets,” which will quickly land on nearby surfaces or people as opposed to hanging in the air. “These droplets can land in the mouths or noses of people who are nearby or possibly be inhaled into the lungs,” the CDC says. As a result, health authorities are urging the public to stay at a home, and keep a distance of 6 feet from others.