As people are taking precautionary measures to combat the spread of the deadly coronavirus, a new scientific study has found that the virus that causes COVID-19 remains for several hours to days on surfaces and in aerosols.
The study published in the New England Journal of Medicine said that people may acquire the novel coronavirus through the air and after touching contaminated objects.
Scientists discovered the virus is detectable for up to three hours in aerosols, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel.
"This virus is quite transmissible through relatively casual contact, making this pathogen very hard to contain," said James Lloyd-Smith, a co-author of the study and a UCLA professor of ecology and evolutionary biology.
"If you are touching items that someone else has recently handled, be aware they could be contaminated and wash your hands," added Smith.
The study attempted to mimic the virus being deposited onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting by an infected person through coughing or touching objects, for example. The scientists then investigated how long the virus remained infectious on these surfaces.
The study''s authors are from UCLA, the National Institutes of Health''s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Princeton University. They include Amandine Gamble, a UCLA postdoctoral researcher in Lloyd-Smith''s laboratory.
In February, Lloyd-Smith and colleagues reported in the journal eLife that screening travellers for COVID-19 is not very effective. People infected with the virus -- officially named SARS-CoV-2 -- may be spreading the virus without knowing they have it or before symptoms appear.
Lloyd-Smith said that the biology and epidemiology of the virus make infection extremely difficult to detect in its early stages because the majority of cases show no symptoms for five days or longer after exposure. (ANI)