Here’s how long the coronavirus survives on common surfaces

coronavirus live on surfaces days
Credit: Tamas Kovacs/MTI/AP

A big question in the outbreak of Covid-19, which has already infected more than 110,000, is how the germ that causes it moves so easily between people. Although many viruses and germs can survive on ordinary objects, zeroing in on precisely how the new coronavirus does it could help stem the epidemic.

To help find an answer, US researchers tried spritzing the virus on seven materials commonly found in homes and hospitals, to see how long it remained infectious.

Materials the virus liked best were stainless steel and plastic, where infectious germs could still be collected after three days and might endure quite a bit longer. It liked copper least: the virus was gone after just four hours. Swished around in the air chamber, the germs remained for about three hours.

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NIH researchers speculate that people with the new coronavirus could be shedding it even if they don’t have symptoms or that that it takes less of the virus for a person to become infected, a metric known as the “infectious dose.”

The researchers say they are now looking at how long the virus lasts in snot, spit, and fecal matter, and under what temperatures and humidity levels.

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