We know how long the coronavirus survives on surfaces. Here’s what it means for handling money, groceries, and more


Update: This article has been modified based on guidelines published March 27th by the ARC Training Center for Food Safety in the Fresh Produce Industry. They advise running products under fresh water and using soap is not recommended. After touching products, hands should be washed with soap.


Like the other 200 or so respiratory viruses we know of, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2), new coronavirusinfects the cells of our airways.

It causes a range of signs and symptoms or none at all. It can spread easily from person to person and can be coughed up into the air and onto surfaces.

Viruses only reproduce inside a living cell – outside the cell they are on their way to either infecting us or destroying themselves. How long a virus survives outside a cell varies.

Researchers found SARS-CoV-2 remains infectious in airborne droplets for at least three hours. This doesn’t mean that infected people cough up enough virus to infect another person, but they do could.


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We believe the virus is also spread through touch. Hard, shiny surfaces such as plastic, stainless steel, countertops and likely glass can carry infectious viruses expelled in droplets for up to 72 hours. But the virus breaks down quickly during this time. It becomes inactive more quickly on fibrous and absorbent substrates such as cardboard, paper, fabric and jute.

How can we reduce the risk of surfaces and objects?

Frequently touched surfaces are all around us. Benches, handrails, doorknobs – they are in our homes, on our commute to work, to school, to play, to shop and to every other destination. There is a risk that these surfaces will become contaminated if we touch them with virus-laden fingers, and we risk contracting the virus from such surfaces.

Think of your hands as the enemy. wash them good, and much more often than usual. Avoid between hand washing constantly touch the mucous membranes that lead to your airways. As a general rule, try not to rub your eyes, pick your nose, or touch your lips and mouth.

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Take precautionary measures

We are already seeing technical initiatives to combat the spread of the virus. in sydney, Pedestrian crossings have been automated so people can avoid touching the buttons.

To slow the spread of SARS-CoV-2, assume that everything outside of your home is potentially contaminated and act accordingly. So don’t touch your face, disinfect yourself frequently when you’re out and wash your hands and Clean your phone once at home.

While staying home is best, keep these tips in mind if you need to leave the house.

• To go shopping

Grocery shopping requires touching surfaces and objects, including shopping carts and baskets. Sometimes sanitizer or antibacterial wipes for hands and handles are available at the entrance to the shop – but often they aren’t, so bring your own (if you can get some). It probably doesn’t matter what type of bag you use, but do have a plan to avoid getting the virus into your home.

• Make payments

Cards and cash could spread the virus to your hands. However, paying by card is probably less of a risk as you keep the card and don’t have to touch anyone else. But wherever possible, contactless bank transfers would pose the least risk.

• Handling and consumption of fresh and canned foods

SARS-CoV-2 is inactivated at temperatures well below those required when canning food, so canned goods are free of it. With freshly packaged food, the risk depends on whether the person doing the packaging was ill or not. If you’re concerned, stick to foods that can be cooked and peeled. products should be washed thoroughly under running water without soap.



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• In the park

Avoid devices that are likely to get a lot of use, including playground equipment and water fountains. Kicking a ball around or playing on the lawn would be safer than using swings. sandboxes hold terror except SARS-CoV-2.

• Takeaway and Deliveries

When buying takeout or for companies that provide it, avoid plastic containers and use more fibrous materials like cardboard, paper, and cloth for packaging. Researchers found no infectious SARS-CoV-2 on cardboard after 24 hours.

Also, avoid proximity to servers and deliverers and opt for contactless delivery whenever you can.

• Public transport, escalators, elevators and toilets

Frequently touching hard, shiny surfaces like elevator buttons and trolley handlebars are a major risk, more so than cloth seats or climbing stairs. Even the most high-tech surface cleaning efforts are overseas changing, so you must take responsibility for yourself. Also, wash your hands thoroughly after using public toilets.

Calm and calculated

It’s important to stay calm and realistic and not focus on single events or actions when you go outside. You cannot account for everything.

Think more about the risk of the whole task than about the many small risks that arise during the process. One silver lining to taking such precautions is that you will too reduce your risk of getting the flu this season.

It is also important to keep your home clean. You can use diluted bleach, detergent, or alcohol solutions on surfaces. Queensland Health has More information.



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For items that are difficult to clean, sunshine can be valuable. Leave your shoes outside, heels up, in the sun. coronaviruses begin to degrade rapidly at temperatures above 56 degrees Celsius and in direct UV light.

Ultimately, the best ways to avoid SARS-CoV-2 infection are primitive – sanitize your hands and stay away from others. Physical distancing remains the most effective measure to slow the progress of this pandemic.

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