Viruses in the environment can be detected through multiple methods. Current approaches rely heavily on the use of molecular methods that detect unique genetic material for the pathogen of interest (in this case, SARS-CoV-2). Genetic material is just one component of a virus and cannot cause infection on its own. Genetic material can often be detected in both viable (“living”) and non-viable or inactivated (“killed”) viruses. Detection of the SARS-CoV-2 in the environment or on surfaces by molecular methods does not mean that the virus is still alive and capable of causing infections. The ability of the virus to infect a new individual will depend on a range of factors, including if the virus is viable.
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