This is a good article that studied how long the coronavirus will be able to stay on the surface of various items (fomites) or remain airborne (aerosol) and viable (still “alive” and infectious). This was released by http://www.medscape.com on March 17, 2020. Dr. Lewis published this research paper in a short period of time, it was not peered reviewed (which is a hallmark of a top quality publication), but released in order to get solid, confident scientific information out to help fight the coronavirus.
The study used the sample concentration of the virus that would be present in the nasal cavity of a symptomatic person. Swabs were placed on various surfaces with samples taken a different intervals. The sample was then tested to see if any virus would be able to be replicated. This would indicate if the virus was still able to infect.
It was determined that the virus would be able to infect and be viable for up to:
- More than 3 hours while and still remaining airborne.
- Plastic and steel surfaces for 2-3 days.
- Cardboard surfaces for 24 hours.
- Copper surfaces for 4 hours.
One critical unknown factor is at what concentration of the virus is needed to infect a person. Just because the virus is still be viable, doesn’t mean that it will get you sick. There generally is some minimal concentration of viral particles required to produce symptoms in a person. Further study on this topic is required.
This sheds light on how contagious this virus is and the importance of proper hand washing and the other ways a person spreads germs.