How long does Covid-19 stay active on different surfaces? The Journal of Medicine New England published a paper on this recently. 

According to the US Centre for Disease Control and Prevention, touching a surface or object with the virus on it and then touching one’s own face “is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads”. Even so, the World Health Organization have emphasised that both washing one’s hands and cleaning and disinfecting frequently touched surfaces daily are key in preventing Covid-19’s spread.

In the experiment, the researchers used a device to dispense an aerosol. This aerosol mimicked the droplets created in a cough or a sneeze. They found that the virus in the air borne aerosol remained active after 3 hours. The amount of viable virus reduced over time. 

How easy is it to deactivate the virus?

Covid- 19 and other viruses and bacteria  are removed by soap or detergent. Research has shown that coronaviruses can be inactivated within a minute, using disinfection. This is achieved by disinfecting surfaces with 62-71% alcohol, 0.5% hydrogen peroxide bleach or household bleach containing 0.1% sodium hypochlorite.

So how long does the virus stay active on different surfaces? The surfaces tested were plastic, copper, stainless steel and cardboard. The virus was inactive on copper after 4 hours. It was inactive on cardboard after 24 hours. On plastic and stainless steel, there was some active viruses after 3 days, in reduced numbers. The paper is here

Workplace outbreaks

There have been a number of outbreaks of COVID 19 in meat and poultry plants both in the UK and USA. Research has suggested that this may be due to multiple factors. These factors coming together may increase the risk of contracting the disease. The research is here, at the time of writing it had not been peer reviewed. 

The three points raised are:

  • “The working environment in these facilities is favourable to COVID 19 persistence (metallic surfaces, low temperatures and relative humidity).
  • The working environment may help SARS-CoV-2 transmission (crowded working places, shared transportation, production of aerosols, droplets).
  • A vulnerable, low-paid workforce may be under pressure to keep working despite having symptoms of COVID-19.”

 In my opinion, the raised voices that you have to use in these environments, which projects the respiratory aerosols combines with the  other factors to create a good place for the virus to infect the workers. Other food manufacturers, where there are also close working environments, with cold conditions and lots of stainless steel, do not appear to be suffering the same incidence of infections.

What can you do about it?

  • Ensure that you are following Government guidance and staying away from others.
  • No hand shaking, hugging or touching of other people.
  • You may need to self isolate.
  • Regularly wash your hands, with soap and water for at least 20 seconds. Wet your hands, apply soap, wash then rinse.
  • If you are out and about, use a sanitising hand gel with a high alcohol content. Make sure that it is anti viral not just anti bacterial.
  • Disinfect or sanitise surfaces regularly.
  • Ask delivery drivers to leave parcels and newspapers at the door. Personally, I am leaving a plastic box outside my front door with a note attached asking for this. I am also leaving letters and parcels for 24 hours before opening them if they cannot be sanitised.  (The box comes in at night and is in a covered area.)
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