The novel coronavirus which originated from Wuhan, China in December 2019, has so far claimed the lives of 2,467 people in China and other countries. To this day, however, scientists are still racing against time to find out more about the virus and help prevent its further spread.
It has already been established that one can get infected through direct transmission (when you inhale the virus from the same air after a patient sneezes or coughs) and transmission by contact, wherein one catches the virus after touching contaminated surfaces. Thus, using a face mask while in a crowded place and frequent handwashing are said to be the best defense against the coronavirus.
However, it is still a mystery how long the virus stays in the air — or on surfaces — after someone who is infected coughs or sneezes. But a new study may provide answers to that.
Research shows that the coronavirus family, whether that be the COVID-19, SARS, or MERS, can linger on objects for as long as nine days unless these are disinfected. In China, the central bank has decided to destroy its cash as a deep cleaning measure because of contamination concerns.
The new study, published in The Journal of Hospital Infection this month, analyzed 22 earlier studies about the coronavirus.
Dr. Charles Chiu, an infectious disease professor at the University of California, San Francisco, said, "Based on the current available data, I would primarily rely on the data from SARS coronavirus, which is the closest relative to the novel coronavirus — with 80% sequence similarity — among the coronaviruses tested. For SARS coronavirus, the range of persistence on surfaces was less than five minutes to nine days."
Cleaning surfaces using common disinfecting products can help kill the virus. "[The coronavirus] can be efficiently inactivated by surface disinfection procedures with 62-71% ethanol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite," the study says.
However, Dr. Chiu adds, "It is very difficult to extrapolate these findings to the novel coronavirus due to the different strains, viral titers and environmental conditions that were tested in the various studies and the lack of data on the novel coronavirus itself. More research using cultures of the novel coronavirus are needed to establish the duration that it can survive on surfaces."