The world is under lockdown and every country is urging its citizens to stay home. It’s better to remain home than to be attacked by an unknown predator. Cancel your office meetings and travel plans and keep an eye on the government guidelines to suppress the spread of the deadly COVID19.
As per the latest report of the New England Journal of Medicine on the longevity of the virus in the air — and on different surfaces. It’s crucial to understand how contagious it could be.
Coronavirus pandemic: 3 hours in the air, but weaker
Until now, the virus was believed not to be able to survive in the air. The scientists, working to different laboratories in universities in the United States, found in their experiments that the SARS-CoV-2 virus could survive in air for about three hours, although its ability to infect was severely weakened during this time. The fact that it does survive in the air, even for a short time, could force scientists and health officials to reassess the risk to people, especially to health workers who spend a lot of time near an infected person.
“The aerosol (air) transmission of SARS-CoV2 is plausible, since the virus can remain viable and infectious in aerosols for hours...,” the study says.
Strongest on plastic and steel
The new study also finds that plastic and stainless steel surfaces are the most conducive for the virus to survive. The virus was found to be “viable” for as long as three days on these surfaces. On cardboard surfaces, the virus could survive for up to 24 hours, while on copper, it could barely last for four hours. The longevity on each of these surfaces has implications for the kinds of things that people can be advised to come in contact with, or avoid. For example, during times of extended isolation, or forced home-stays, people are likely to interact more with cardboard boxes while getting food and other products shipped to their residence. The fact that the virus does not survive beyond 24 hours on these surfaces might reduce worries on this front.
But there is a lot more to learn
The scientists said the survivability of the SARS-CoV-2 virus on these surfaces was not drastically different from that of the SARS-CoV-1 virus, which had a similar but less deadly outbreak in mainly Asian countries in 2003. Therefore, they conclude that the reason for the much greater spread of SARS-CoV-2, as compared to the 2003 virus, “could arise from other factors (not any difference in their life spans), including high viral loads in the upper respiratory tract and the potential for persons infected with the SARS-CoV2 to shed and transmit the virus without showing any symptoms of the disease".
However, the latest findings may not be conclusive yet. Scientists across the world are still learning about the novel coronavirus, and trying hard to find the cure. Until they come out with sure-shot vaccine to curb this disease, follow the simple steps below to prepare and prevent the spread of the disease.