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. Seven laboratory studies were identified in a recent systematic review that assessed the persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces: the resulting half-lives (time needed for the number of viruses to be reduced by 50%) were between 2.2 and 18 hours on stainless steel, nitrile and plastic surfaces. Factors influencing survival of coronaviruses on surfaces are discussed in this review.

The virus appears to be quite sensitive to heat and UV radiation, so if the surface is in the sunshine the virus may die more quickly.

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Editor's Note

Author: Karin Gallandat
Review: Karen Levy, Jacqueline Knee, Sian White, Robert Dreibelbis
Last Update: 22.12.2020

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