When an individual sheds viruses onto a surface or object by sneezing, coughing or defecating, these viruses will die off and the number of infectious viruses on the surface will decrease over time. SARS-CoV-2 can survive on surfaces for hours to days depending on surface type, temperature and humidity. Factors influencing survival of coronaviruses on surfaces are discussed in this review.  In controlled laboratory conditions (21-23°C and 40% relative humidity) infectious SARS-CoV-2 was detected for up to 3 days on plastic, 2 days on stainless steel, 1 day on cardboard. 

The virus also appears to be quite sensitive to heat, so if the surface is in the sunshine the virus may die more quickly. The limited laboratory data we have regarding SARS-CoV-2 is consistent with findings from experiments performed with similar viruses. A recent systematic review suggests that these viruses can remain viable for up to 9 days on plastic and that survival is greater at low temperatures (4°C). 

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Editor's Note

Author: Karin Gallandat
Review: Karen Levy, Jacqueline Knee, Sian White, Robert Dreibelbis
Last Update: 15.04.2020

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