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Coronavirus Can Stay for Hours in Air and for Days on Surfaces, Finds NIH Study

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 23 Mar 2020
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A study by the National Institutes of Health (NIH; Bethesda, MD, USA; www.nih.gov) has revealed that the virus that causes coronavirus disease (COVID-19) is stable for several hours to days in aerosols and on surfaces. Scientists from NIH, CDC and Princeton University compared how the environment affects SARS-CoV-2 and SARS-CoV-1, which causes SARS. SARS-CoV-1, like its successor now circulating across the globe, emerged from China and infected more than 8,000 people in 2002 and 2003. SARS-CoV-1 is the human coronavirus most closely related to SARS-CoV-2. In the stability study the two viruses behaved similarly, which unfortunately fails to explain why COVID-19 has become a much larger outbreak.

The study attempted to mimic virus being deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as through coughing or touching objects. The scientists then investigated how long the virus remained infectious on these surfaces. The scientists found that severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The results provide key information about the stability of SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 disease, and suggests that people may acquire the virus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.

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National Institutes of Health (NIH)


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