A new study, published in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM), has underlined the remarkable resilience of coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2). The study has found that SARS-CoV-2 can contaminate and stay stable for hours, even days, in the form of liquid droplets in the air (also called aerosols) and when it’s found on different surfaces.
News: New coronavirus stable for hours on surfaces https://t.co/k3F2FSMmEz
— NIH (@NIH) March 17, 2020
The news has raised concerns amid the worst pandemic fiasco in the world. The virus can hop from one person to another with an ease that has both petrified the world. All it takes is an infected droplet to land in the mouth or nose and on the clothes, hands and other surfaces to make the virus eligible for transmission. The World Health Organization (WHO) says an infected person can pass the virus to 1-3 persons.
New studies — that keep emerging on a daily basis — bring new findings on virus transmissibility. Apparently, a person doesn’t have to be in close proximity of the potential carrier [which according to U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is a distance of six feet) to catch the disease because the virus pretty much remains stable and alive on metal, plastic and cardboard.
This, as per the study in question, includes mobiles, laptops, cutlery, sink, tableware, kitchen and garden appliances, escalators, jewelry, coins, soft drink, milk and juice bottles, grocery bags, food containers and cardboard boxes.
Resilience and Viability of SARS-CoV-2 on Different Surfaces
As grim as the news may sound, it provides valuable information about virus transmission. The information is being widely circulated among the researchers and over the internet to create awareness and explore decontamination and virus containment techniques.
A team of scientists from the National Institute of Health (NIH), CDC, Princeton University and University of California (UCLA) artificially created 10 experimental conditions using two strains of coronaviruses (SARS-CoV-2 nCoV-WA1-2020 and SARS-CoV-1 Tor2) and sprayed virus-inoculated solutions on various surfaces including copper, plastic, aerosols, steel and cardboard.
SARS-CoV-2 showed remarkable resilience. The experimenters found it can stay active for up to 3-4 hours in aerosols and on copper surfaces, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to 2-3 days on plastic and stainless steel. After the noted period, the virus begins to recede.
The study is another reminder of why it is so important to clean and disinfect the house, workplace and commonly-used objects and tools to ward off the risk of infection.
How to Clean and Disinfect Surfaces the CDC and NEA Way
The CDC points out to the fact that it is too early to say how to definitively eradicate SARS-CoV-2 because there is so much to learn about the pandemic that has sent shivers down the spine of millions across the world. However, on its website, it has enlisted several cleaning and disinfection recommendations to lower immediate risk of exposure, some of which include maintaining hygiene, wearing gloves and removing dirt and contamination from surfaces such as doorknobs, light switches, laptop, desks, smart devices with U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) approved household disinfectants such as BS & H, Accel Tb, and Advantage. The National Environment Agency (NEA) agrees with the CDC.
For disinfection, the CDC recommends diluting household bleach solutions (5 tablespoons per gallon of water) with alcohol (>70%) and disinfectants and neatly wiping all surfaces with the help of a swab or loofah.