Experts say the coronavirus known as COVID-19 can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days, according to a new study that should offer guidance to help people avoid contracting the respiratory illness.
Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, attempted mimic the virus deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as though coughing or touching objects.
Scientists used a device to dispense an aerosol that duplicated the microscopic droplets create in a cough or sneeze. The virus was then investigated to determine how long it would last on these surfaces.
The test results concluded that when the virus is carried by the droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes can remain viable for 24 hours. On copper, experts say it took 4 hours for the virus to become inactivated.
The research found that in terms of half-life, it takes about 66 minutes for half the virus particles to lose function if they are in the aerosol droplets.
That means that after another hour and six minutes, three-quarters of the virus particles will be essentially inactivated but 25% will still be viable.
On stainless steel, it takes 5 hours and 38 minutes for half of the virus particles to become inactive.
On plastic, the halflife is 6 hours and 49 minutes, according to researchers.
On cardboard, the half-life was about three and a half hours, but researchers said there was a lot of variability in those results.