The virus that causes Covid-19 can survive on banknotes, glass and stainless steel for up to 28 days, much longer than the flu virus, Australian researchers said on Monday, stressing the need for cleaning and hand washing to fight the virus.
The results of the study by the Australian national science agency CSIRO seem to show that the virus remained infectious longer than other studies in a very controlled environment.
CSIRO researchers found that the SARS-COV-2 virus remained infectious at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit) for 28 days on smooth surfaces like plastic banknotes and glass on cellphone screens. The study was published in the Virology Journal.
In comparison, the influenza A virus was found to survive on surfaces for 17 days.
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“It really highlights the importance of washing and disinfecting hands where possible and wiping surfaces that may come in contact with the virus,” said lead researcher on the study, Shane Riddell.
The study involved drying the virus in an artificial slime on a number of surfaces at concentrations similar to samples from Covid-19 patients and then recovering the virus for a month.
Experiments at 20, 30, and 40 degrees Celsius (68, 86, 104 degrees Fahrenheit) showed that the virus survived longer at cooler temperatures, longer on smooth surfaces than on complex surfaces like cotton, and longer on paper banknotes than plastic banknotes.
“On the way into summer, this will certainly be an important factor so that the virus doesn’t last as long in warmer temperatures,” said Riddell, referring to the upcoming summer in the southern hemisphere.
All experiments were done in the dark to eliminate the influence of ultraviolet light, as research has shown that direct sunlight can kill the virus.
“In the real world, the results would likely be shorter than what we could show,” Riddell told Reuters.
Given that proteins and fats in body fluids can also greatly extend virus survival times, their study could help explain the apparent persistence and spread of the virus in cool environments such as meat packing plants.
Australia has fared much better than most other rich nations in fighting Covid-19, with a total of 27,000 infections and 898 deaths out of a population of 25 million people.
The epicenter of the country’s second wave of infections, the state of Victoria, reported 15 new cases on Monday, well behind a target of less than five set by the government to ease a tough lockdown in the state capital, Melbourne.
New South Wales, the most populous state, reported six new cases on Monday, with five travelers being returned to quarantine.