March 17, 2020

Persistence of coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces, inactivation with biocidal agents

By: Judy Mathias
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Editor's Note

A new novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2), which causes the disease COVID-19, is the third highly pathogenic human coronavirus that has emerged in the last two decades. The other two are the Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) and Middle East Respirtory Syndrome (MERS) coronaviruses.

This analysis of 22 studies finds that the SARS and MERS coronaviruses can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass, or plastic for up to 9 days. Persistence is shorter at a temperature of 30º C or more.


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Surface disinfection with 62-71% ethanol or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite significantly reduces coronavirus infectivity on surfaces within 1 minute of exposure time. Other biocidal agents such as 0.05-0.2% benzalkonium chloride or 0.02% chlorhexidine digluconate are less effective.

No data were found on the frequency of hands becoming contaminated with coronavirus or the viral load on hands after patient contact or after touching contaminated surfaces.

The authors say they expect a similar effect of persistence and inactivation with the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus.

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