Scientists study COVID-19 in the air and on surfaces

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A recent study finds that coronavirus can remain viable in the air for hours and on some surfaces for days.

“They looked at four types of surfaces. Copper, stainless steel, plastic and cardboard,” said Dr. Thomas Russo. an infectious disease expert at the University at Buffalo Jacobs School of Medicine and Biomedical Sciences, who’s been following the latest developments on the COVID-19 outbreak.  

According to a new study from National Institutes of Health, CDC, UCLA and Princeton University scientists published in The New England Journal of Medicine, the virus was detectable in aerosols for up to three hours.

“I think the greatest risk remains if that person coughs or sneezes when you’re in close proximity. And that close proximity we’ve been talking about now to the best of our knowledge is six feet,” Russo explained.

But what about surfaces?

The study found that the virus is detectable up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two or three days on plastic and stainless steel.

“It survived less well on cardboard and copper. Copper does have some potential anti-viral activities. it survived longer on stainless steel and on plastic,” Russo said.

He says researchers have anticipated the possibility that the virus could remain viable depending on how much is deposited in the air and on surfaces.

“The virus dies over time. But if you start off with a lot, even after a number of hours, there’ll still be a fair amount there. If you start off with just a very little amount, it’ll disappear much more quickly,” Russo remarked.

He added, “If infectious particles are deposited on these surfaces, we need to be careful about disinfecting them. We need to be careful about hand hygiene after we touch them.”

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