Study details how long coronavirus lasts on different common surfaces

The novel coronavirus behind the growing number of COVID-19 respiratory disease cases around the world is believed to primarily be transmitted through droplets in the air and on surfaces that have been touched by contaminated hands. For this reason, public health officials are advising the public to avoid touching their faces and to regularly wash their hands. A new study sheds light on just how long the coronavirus lasts on the surfaces you often touch.

There are a number of surfaces that may be touched by individuals who have contaminated hands and some of them are difficult to wash — packaged products sold at grocery stores, for example, which may have been touched by multiple people before you purchased them. As well, sick people may touch packages and mail that are delivered to your doorstep, as well as expected things like car steering wheels, handrails, and doorknobs.

A new study out of the University of California, Los Angeles, has detailed how long the coronavirus lives on certain surfaces:

- Up to 24 hours in aerosols

- Up to 4 hours on copper

- Up to 24 hours on cardboard

- Up to between 2 and 3 days on stainless steel

- Up to between 2 and 3 days on plastic

It is hard to contain a virus that is easily transmitted through contact like this — many people touch a surface, then absentmindedly touch their face, transferring the virus to their mouth, nose, or eyes. For this reason, people are advised to frequently and thoroughly wash their hands using ordinary soap and hot water, which is capable of killing the virus.

People who are sick or suspect they may be infected — including those who have had close contact with a known infected person — are advised to stay home in order to curb the spread of the virus. As well, objects and surfaces should be regularly cleaned and disinfected to help prevent the transmission of this infectious disease, according to the researchers.