New coronavirus can live on surfaces for hours, study says

The virus that causes COVID-19 can live for several hours to days, according to a recent study from the National Institutes of Health, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), UCLA and Princeton University scientists in The New England Journal of Medicine.

According to the study, scientists found the virus was detectable for

  • Up to three hours in aerosols,
  • Up to four hours on copper,
  • Up to 24 hours on cardboard,
  • Up to three days on plastic and stainless steel.

Although the CDC acknowledges that "it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes," experts state "this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

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The scientists said their findings reaffirmed guidance from public health officials to take precautions such as:

  • Avoiding close contact with those who are sick,
  • Avoiding touching your face,
  • Staying home when you are sick,
  • Covering coughs and sneezes,
  • Cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched items and surfaces.