The virus responsible for COVID-19 can survive on some common surfaces, such as mobile phone screens, for up to 28 days, researchers have found.
According to a team from Australia's national science agency, CSIRO, the SARS-CoV-2 virus tends to survive longer on non-porous or smooth surfaces, such as glass, stainless steel and vinyl, compared to porous complex surfaces, such as cotton.
The researchers also found that the virus survives longer on paper banknotes compared to plastic banknotes.
Overall, it survives longer at lower temperatures.
"Establishing how long the virus really remains viable on surfaces enables us to more accurately predict and mitigate its spread, and do a better job of protecting our people.
"Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious on surfaces for long periods of time, reinforcing the need for good practices such as regular handwashing and cleaning surfaces," commented Dr Debbie Eagles, deputy Director of CSIRO's Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness.
She explained that at 20 degrees Celsius, which is about room temperature, the virus was "extremely robust", surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces, such as the glass found on mobile phone screens.
"For context, similar experiments for influenza A have found that it survived on surfaces for 17 days, which highlights just how resilient SARS-CoV-2 is," Dr Eagles noted.
The researchers also carried out experiments at 30 and 40 degrees Celsius, and found that survival times of the virus decreased as the temperature increased.
"While the precise role of surface transmission, the degree of surface contact and the amount of virus required for infection is yet to be determined, establishing how long this virus remains viable on surfaces is critical for developing risk mitigation strategies in high-contact areas," Dr Eagles added.
*Pictured is a droplet of SARS-CoV-2 in artificial mucous on glass.
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