The highly contagious novel coronavirus that has exploded into a global pandemic might be even more transmittable and resilient than previously thought.
A new study published today shows the virus can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days.
Scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, attempted to mimic the virus deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as through coughing or touching objects.
They used a device to dispense an aerosol that duplicated the microscopic droplets created in a cough or a sneeze. The scientists then investigated how long the coronavirus remained infectious on these surfaces.
The tests, published in the New England Journal of Medicine, show that when the virus is released into the air, carried by the droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes, it was able to still infect people for at least three hours.
On cardboard, including the surfaces of common delivery packaging, the virus could be detected for up to 24 hours. And on plastic and stainless steel, viable virus could linger three days or more.
The U.S. National Institutes of Health said the study affirmed their guidance to use precautions, such as avoiding crowds and cleaning or disinfecting objects and surfaces.