Australia’s national science agency CSIRO found that SARS-Cov-2—the virus responsible for COVID-19—can survive for a lot longer than we thought. The virus can remain infectious on surfaces like banknotes, phone screens and stainless steel for 28 days.
Previously, laboratory tests have found that SARS-Cov-2 can survive for 2 to 3 days on bank notes and glass, and up to six days on plastic and stainless steel. However, CSIRO found that the virus was “extremely robust”—surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces when kept at 20 degrees Celcius, and in the dark.
This means that the virus can survive for much longer than the flu virus, as the latter can survive in the same circumstances for 17 days. But some experts don’t see the finding as threatening as you might think.
“When we increased temperature, the survival of the virus was certainly shortened. So up to 40 degrees (Celcius), the virus survived generally less than 24 hours,” said Shane Riddell, Lead Researcher at CSIRO.
SARS-Cov-2 also stayed longer on smooth, non-porous surfaces rather than on porous materials like cloth. With porous materials, the virus couldn’t survive past 14 days.
Here’s what you can do
From the studies done by CRISO, we’ve learnt that it can spread and stay longer on surfaces like banknotes and touchscreens if these surfaces are at around 20 degrees Celcius. However, the experiments were carried out in a dark room with stable temperatures—so the virus may well not do so well in the real world.
Even so, the results highlight the need to wash hands regularly. This should also be a reminder to avoid touching your face in order to minimise the risk of infection—especially when handling cash. While you’re at it, avoid using cash if you can and regularly wipe your credit and debit cards.
As for your touchscreens, both Apple and Samsung have device cleaning guides that you can refer to if you would like to safely disinfect your devices. I do recommend that you read through the guides, as using the wrong product will not be great for your devices.
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