COVID-19 may survive for up to twenty-eight days on common surfaces like smartphone screens, banknotes, glass and chrome steel, according to a laboratory study by Australia's national science agency.
The research, published on the Virology Journal, shows that SARS-CoV-2 will stay infectious on surfaces for long periods of time, reinforcing the need for regular hand washing and cleaning surfaces.
The research, undertaken at the Australian Center for Disease Preparedness, found that SARS-CoV-2 survived longer at lower temperatures and on non-porous or smooth surfaces like glass, stainless steel and vinyl.
The researchers at CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, conjointly found that the COVID-19 survived longer on paper banknotes than plastic banknotes.
"Establishing how long the virus really remains viable on surfaces permits us to a lot of accurately predict and mitigate its spread, and do a better job of protecting our people," said CSIRO Chief Executive Larry Marshall.
"At 20 degree Celsius, that is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on swish surfaces like glass found on mobile screens and plastic banknotes," Debble Eagles, Deputy Director of ACDP said.
For context, similar experiments for influenza A have found that it survived on surfaces for 17 days, that highlights simply however resilient SARS-CoV-2 is, the researchers said.
The study concerned drying the virus in an artificial mucus on totally different surfaces, at concentrations the same as those reported in samples from infected patients and then re-isolating the virus over a month. Further experiments were carried out at 30 and 40 degrees Celsius, with survival times decreasing as the temperature increased.
The study was executed in the dark, to get rid of the effect of ultraviolet radiation as research has demonstrated that direct sunlight will inactive the virus.
"While the precise role of surface transmission, the degree of surface contact and the amount of virus needed for infection is yet to be determined, establishing how long the virus remains viable on surfaces is crucial for developing risk mitigation strategies in high contact areas," Eagles said.
According to professor Trevor Drew, Director of ACDP, several viruses remained viable on surfaces outside their host.
"How long they will survive and stay infectious depends on the kind of virus, quantity, the surface, environmental conditions and the way it's deposited," Drew said.
"Proteins and fats in body fluids may significantly increase virus survival times," he said.
The study may additionally facilitate to elucidate the apparent persistence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in cool environments with high lipid or protein contamination, like meat processing facilities and how we might better address the risk, the researchers said.