How long does the Coronavirus last on surfaces

By Dr. J Ken 23 March 2020

To live the Coronavirus needs us!  - Self Isolate and it can not Win.


But the big question I want to provide some insight into is


“how long does the coronavirus live or survive on surfaces"


Firstly - It is well understood that viruses can only reproduce when they're inside another cell. That is good!


So without a host to live in i.e us, this new coronavirus that causes COVID-19 will not survive. [Ref]

So the good news the virus can not increase outside us, but it can survive - read to see the length of time the coronavirus can survive on common household surfaces.


Also see our post on How to Survive Self-Isolation


But how long can the coronavirus last on a surface ?


While there is no published data that I can find yet on this mutation of the Coronavirus - we need to look at tests that have been done on other viruses to get an idea.


You remember SARS - recent research published in The New England Journal of Medicine 

found that SARS-CoV-2 can still survive for hours and in some cases days, outside a host, depending on the type of surface it's on.


The research looked at how stable the virus was in air and on plastic, stainless steel, copper, and cardboard surfaces.


Note these tests were under laboratory or experimental conditions and it found that the virus remained contagious or viable in air for the entire three-hour experiment.

Live Virus

copyright C Goldsmith US CDC

This image of a live virus is from the CDC. Virus are very small, much smaller than bacteria.


They need a host, like us to to replicate.


So the best way to win is SELF ISOLATE.

How long virus can last on common household surfaces.

72 Hours

Plastic and stainless steel surfaces. For example a plastic seat on a bus. This is why we see public transport being cleaned regularly.


24 Hours

Cardboard surfaces. No viable virus was detected after 24 hours. However I would still discard cardboard when I get home from shopping.

4 Hours

A Copper surface showed not virus activity after 4 hours.

These surfaces tested  - while in the laboratory are actually quite representative on what surfaces we have in our home.


What is import is for you to be aware - these viruses survive for hours or even days on the common surfaces we touch each day.


People who have coronavirus or covid-19 can leave traces of the virus behind.


That is why the CDC and other Government organisations stress washing your hands before you touch your face.


 See here for the CDC Prevention recommendations.


What can you do to best protect yourself from coronavirus on these surfaces.


  • Clean your Hands often and every time you go outside:
  • Clean your household surfaces more regularly
    • like kitchen and laundry benches
    • your bathroom vanity and taps
    • kids' toys 
    • your handphone is a virus trap - clean it
    • Your keyboard and mouse


Use Soap or mix your own bleach or use an alcohol spray.


Now while you are surely washing your hands more frequently which is great, do not forget those other common surfaces you're touching - clean them also.


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