COVID-19 can remain infectious on phone screens, money for nearly a month: Study

October 12, 2020

    COVID-19 can survive and remain infectious on certain surfaces for almost one month, reveals a new study.

    The virus that causes COVID-19 is able to survive and remain infectious on a variety of surfaces, including glass, stainless steel, and banknotes, for 28 days, says the study by CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency.

    In comparison, the influenza A virus can survive on surfaces for 17 days, reports Reuters.

    The Australian study, which was conducted in a controlled environment, found that on surfaces such as glass, like the kind used for smartphones, the virus was able to remain infectious for 28 days. Similar results were found for items like plastic banknotes.

    The findings reinforce “the importance of washing hands and sanitizing where possible and certainly wiping down surfaces that may be in contact with the virus,” said Shane Riddell, the lead researcher of the study published in Virology Journal.

    The study was conducted by drying the COVID-19 virus in an artificial mucus and placing it on different surfaces in concentrations similar to samples collected from COVID-19 patients. The experiment found that the virus survived longer on smooth surfaces compared to surfaces like cloth. It also survived longer on plastic banknotes than on paper money.

    Because direct sunlight has been shown to kill the virus, the experiments were done in the dark to remove the impact of ultraviolet light. “In the real world results would likely be shorter than what we are able to show,” said Riddell.

    The study also found that the virus survived longer at cooler temperatures, with experiments done at 20, 30, and 40 degrees Celsius.

    Virus survival times can also be impacted by the proteins and fat in body fluids, and the researchers indicated that, combined with COVID-19’s prolonged survival in cool environments, it could explain why places like meat-packing facilities have had outbreaks of the novel virus.

    According to an analysis by the Food Environmental Reporting Network, a nonprofit investigative news organization, as of October 9 there have been confirmed cases of COVID-19 in at least 508 meatpacking plants. Over 45,000 meatpacking workers have tested positive for the virus, and over 200 have died from it.

    This spring, supermarket executives warned of an imminent meat shortage due to plant closures caused by coronavirus outbreaks among workers.

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