It is possible to pick up the Covid-19 virus by touching surfaces that have been contaminated with the new pathogen, but it is not yet clear how long the virus is able to survive outside of the human body.
How Long Does the Coronavirus Last on Surfaces?
As Covid-19 has spread, so has people’s fear of surfaces. It is not uncommon to now see people trying to open doors with elbows, commuters avoiding grab handles, and office workers cleaning down their desks. In the worst-hit areas, teams of workers have sprayed a fog of disinfectant in parks and public streets. Cleaning regimes in hospitals, shops and offices have increased.
Like many respiratory viruses, Covid-19 can be spread by the tiny droplets released from the mouth or nose of an infected person. A single cough produces up to 3,000 droplets. These particles land on other people, and the surfaces around them, but the smaller particles can remain in the air for some time and end up on your clothes.
It is not yet clear how long Sars-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease Covid-19, survives outside of the human body. Some other coronaviruses can survive on metal, glass and plastic for nine days unless they are disinfected. Coronaviruses are resilient and so it is important to keep your hands – and clothes - clean.
The quickest way to kill coronaviruses is by disinfecting surfaces with an alcohol-based cleaner, or household bleach containing sodium hypochlorite. There is no data on how many virus particles are in a single droplet that has been coughed up by an infected person, research on the related flu virus suggests that smaller droplets contain many tens of thousands of copies of the virus.
On clothing and other surfaces, it is not yet clear how long the virus survives. The absorbent natural fibres of cardboard are believed to cause the virus to dry up more quickly than plastic and metal surfaces.
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