How long can COVID-19 last on surfaces? Studies from NIAID laboratories including major research from Rocky Mountain Laboratories in Hamilton came up with answers. Vincent Munster, Ph.D., principal investigator of RML's Laboratory of Virology, said The stability of the virus on surfaces was made public in the past two weeks and was published in the New England Journal of Medicine this week. The secondary infections of the virus appear to be occurring in community settings rather than healthcare settings.

The SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes COVID-19 is detectable in aerosols (such as someone coughing) for 3 hours. On the surface, it is detectable for up to 4 hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The study also suggests that infected people might be spreading the virus before they recognize any symptoms. Again, they advise:

  • Avoid contact with sick people
  • Stay home when you are sick
  • Cover your cough or sneeze with a tissue, then throw the tissue in the trash
  • Avoid touching your face
  • Clean and disinfect using a regular household cleaning spray or wipes.
  • The COVID-19 is similar to the SARS outbreak in 2002 and 2003, which was stopped by intensive contact tracing and isolation measures. No cases have been detected since 2004. The recent RML study showed those similarities between the 2002 SARS CoV-1 and the recent SARS Cov-2, but did not positively explain the much larger outbreak of COVID-19.