We all know that the virus behind the current COVID-19 pandemic usually gets transferred from person to person via physical contact and droplets from people that coughed or sneezed. But how about touching surfaces? How long can they survive on these surfaces?
How Long SARS-CoV-2 Can Live On Surfaces
Recently, the website for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) updated its information about the coronavirus without an announcement, stating that the new virus “does not spread easily” from touching surfaces or objects.
This is, however, different from previous research published on March 17. It states the virus could be viable in the air for up to three hours, on copper for at least four hours, on stainless steel for up to a whopping 72 hours and on paper/cardboard for at least 24 hours. It can stay for up to a day in wood and cloth, two days for both bank notes and glass and up to 30 minutes for tissue paper. However, that previous research didn’t specify how long it can linger on surfaces and just how infectious those surfaces can be.
And now, CDC’s website states that the virus spreads “very easily and sustainably between people,” with the sub-headline reading the virus does not spread easily in other ways. In other words, the agency states that while it’s possible for COVID-19 to spread through ways like touching surfaces or objects and then touching the mouth, eyes or nose, these are not the main routes of transmission, as far as the latest research is concerned.
As such, people are wary on which precautions they should be taking, given that all of the states across the country have partially reopened. A lot, for example, are afraid to touch cash and are turning to more “touchless” payment options.
“A persistent problem in this pandemic has been lack of clear messaging from governmental leadership, and this is another unfortunate example of that trend. It could even have a detrimental effect on hand hygiene and encourage complacency about physical distancing or other measures,” Angela Rasmussen, a virologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, said.
Nevertheless, the CDC has still published a set of guidelines on how to clean and disinfect surfaces that may be susceptible to the virus.
“Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 may remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made from a variety of materials . Cleaning of visibly dirty surfaces followed by disinfection is a best practice measure for prevention of COVID-19 and other viral respiratory illnesses in households and community settings,” the agency wrote.
In any case, precautions like hand-washing and social distancing are still the best ways to avoid the virus.