Novel coronavirus viable on steel surfaces for 72 hours

Researches suggest that virus stays alive up to 5 days in some widely used plastic, paper surfaces, says Turkish expert

Yesim Sert Karaaslan   | 25.03.2020
Novel coronavirus viable on steel surfaces for 72 hours


With the novel coronavirus outbreak claiming thousands of lives worldwide, experts warn that the virus can survive on surfaces for days.

“A research suggested that COVID-19 can stay alive on stainless steel surfaces up to 72 hours,” Mustafa Necmi Ilhan, head of Public Health Department at Gazi University, told Anadolu Agency, citing the research published on New England Journal of Medicine on March 17.

“The study revealed that the estimated half-life of the virus density on these surfaces is between 5.6 and 6.8 hours,” Ilhan said.

The term half-life is used to describe the time required for a quantity to reduce to half of its initial value.

Touching on the other studies conducted on the virus’ viability on other surfaces, Ilhan said: “The researches show that the virus survives up to 4-5 days on paper, 5 days on plastic, 3 hours in the air, 2-8 hours on aluminum, 8 hours on surgical gloves, which are widely used for protection, 4 days on wood and window.”

Hand cleaning is vital

On the widespread usage of plastic and steel materials in daily life from door handles to elevator buttons, vehicles to food containers, Ilhan said that cleaning of such surfaces is as crucial as hand cleaning.

He added that viruses on such surfaces may cause infection of people touching them, and pose a risk for hundreds of people.

“For this reason, hands should be washed with water and soap thoroughly as suggested,” he stressed, adding that hand cleaning can be achieved with disinfectants or Turkish cologne which includes 80% alcohol.

He also joined others in calling on people to avoid touching their face, mouth and nose.

Be cautious of hair and beard

“Hair and beard are the places most suitable for the reproduction of the virus,” Ilhan said, urging people to cut their hair and beard short and to use hair restraints when needed.

Stressing the vital importance of staying home and social isolation, he said that if it is compulsory to leave house, clothing worn outside should be washed or ventilated -- if they cannot be washed -- upon returning back home.

Ilhan also suggested not to bring personal protective equipment provided by working places to home.

After emerging in Wuhan, China last December, the virus has spread to at least 171 countries and regions around the globe, according to latest figures by Johns Hopkins University. The World Health Organization has declared it a pandemic.

The virus claimed more than 19,600 lives as of Wednesday, while confirmed cases topped 435,000. People recovering from the pandemic has neared 112,000.

*Contributions and writing by Sena Guler

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