Graphic Shows How Long Coronavirus Lives on Surfaces

Coronavirus

The new coronavirus is an illness of lung, which means it typically increases via airborne droplets. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets carrying viral particles can land on someone else’s nose or mouth or get inhaled.

But a person can seldom get the coronavirus if they touch a facade or object that has viral particles on it and then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. The life span of the virus on a surface depends on myriad factors, including the surrounding temperature, humidity, and type of surface.

A study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine suggested the virus could live up to four hours on copper, up to a day on cardboard, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

The coronavirus can also live in the air for up to three hours, the study authors said.

How long the coronavirus can survive on surfaces

The researchers compared the new coronavirus’ life span on surfaces with that of the SARS coronavirus in a 70-degree Fahrenheit room at 40% relative humidity. They found that both coronaviruses lived the longest on stainless steel and polypropylene, a type of plastic used in everything from Tupperware to toys. Both viruses lasted up to three days on plastic, and the new coronavirus lasted up to three days on steel.

On cardboard, however, the new coronavirus lasted three times longer than SARS did: 24 hours, compared with eight hours.

Temperature and humidity play a big role in how long the virus can survive.

A recent study found that an 18-degree Fahrenheit jump, from 68 degrees to 86 degrees, decreased how long SARS lasted on steel surfaces by at least half. New research also found that increases in relative humidity reduce how readily the virus can spread between people.

Basically, humidity is how much moisture is in the air, or how clammy your skin feels outside. As relative humidity approaches 100%, sweat less readily evaporates into the air. That mugginess makes it challenging for viral droplets to survive in the air and spread between people.

You’re unlikely to get the coronavirus from your Amazon package

Despite that daylong life span on cardboard, it’s unlikely that anyone could contract the new coronavirus from a cardboard box, like those that Amazon delivers.

That’s because shipping conditions make it difficult for the coronavirus to survive.

“We know that viruses are likely to only live a few hours to a few days under the sort of conditions we expose packages to, including shifts in temperature and humidity,” Rachel Graham, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina, previously told Business Insider.

Some coronaviruses, including this new one, have a viral envelope: a fat layer that protects viral particles when they travel from person to person in the air. That sheath can dry out, however, killing the virus.

“There is likely very low risk of spread from products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient temperatures,” the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

If you’re still concerned about your packages, Graham suggests using surface disinfectants like Lysol or bleach.

These disinfectants could work within 15 seconds, but if you want to be extra careful, you can wait between five and six minutes, she said.

This precaution is likely unnecessary.

“If we had transmission via packages, we would have seen immediate global spread out of China early in the outbreak,” Elizabeth McGraw, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University, previously told Business Insider.

“We did not see that, and therefore I think the risk is incredibly low,” she added.

These disinfectants could work within 15 seconds, but if you want to be extra careful, you can wait between five and six minutes, she said.

This precaution is likely unnecessary.

“If we had transmission via packages, we would have seen immediate global spread out of China early in the outbreak,” Elizabeth McGraw, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University, previously told Business Insider.

“We did not see that, and therefore I think the risk is incredibly low,” she added.

These disinfectants could work within 15 seconds, but if you want to be extra careful, you can wait between five and six minutes, she said.

This precaution is likely unnecessary.

“If we had transmission via packages, we would have seen immediate global spread out of China early in the outbreak,” Elizabeth McGraw, the director of the Center for Infectious Disease Dynamics at Pennsylvania State University, previously told Business Insider.

“We did not see that, and therefore I think the risk is incredibly low,” she added.

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