Viability of SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces

27 May 2020

This rapid research brief synthesises the evidence on how long the SARS-CoV-2 virus remains viable on different surfaces, particularly clothes, cardboard, plastic, stainless steel, and copper.

Key findings:

  • Governments around the world are looking at COVID-19 containment measures. In addition to physical distancing and hand washing, understanding the amount of time the virus remains viable on different surfaces and how to efficiently clean surfaces will inform public health and infection control measures.
  • While viable virus particles (i.e., functionally intact and potentially infectious) can be detected on surfaces, the extent to which people can be infected by exposure to contaminated surfaces remains to be determined.
  • At room temperature, SARS-CoV-2 remains viable:
    • up to four days on glass
    • up to three days on stainless steel and plastic
    • up to two days on clothes
    • up to one day on cardboard or paper
    • up to four hours on copper.
  • Standard disinfection procedures should be sufficient to reduce surface contamination.
  • The survival of SARS-CoV-2 on hands is not specifically known, but thorough cleansing with alcohol-based hand rubs or soap and water should be sufficient to reduce the likelihood of infection.
  • Standard laundering with hot water and detergent should be sufficient to reduce contamination on clothes.
  • The viability of SARS-CoV-2 on surfaces is reduced by heat and simulated sunlight

Contributing authors
Professor Edward Holmes FAA FRS
Professor Edward Holmes FAA FRS Marie Bashir Institute for Infectious Diseases and Biosecurity, School of Life and Environmental Sciences and School of Medical Sciences, the University of Sydney.
Associate Professor Jill Carr
Associate Professor Jill Carr Lecturer and Laboratory Head, Microbiology and Infectious Diseases, College of Medicine and Public Health, Flinders University
Image of Professor Trevor Drew OBE FRSB
Professor Trevor Drew OBE FRSB Director, Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, CSIRO.
Associate Professor Ian Mackay
Associate Professor Ian Mackay UQ Child Health Research Centre, Faculty of Medicine, University of Queensland
Associate Professor Timothy Peter Newsome
Associate Professor Timothy Peter Newsome School of Life and Environmental Sciences, University of Sydney
Dr Sacha Stelzer-Braid
Dr Sacha Stelzer-Braid Senior Postdoctoral Scientist, School of Medical Sciences UNSW, Virology Research Laboratory, Prince of Wales Hospital and UNSW Research Laboratories
Peer reviewers
Dr Kate McBride
Dr Kate McBride Senior Lecturer, Translational Health Research Institute, Western Sydney University
Professor Miguel E. Quiñones-Mateu
Professor Miguel E. Quiñones-Mateu Webster Family Chair in Viral Pathogenesis; Associate Dean Research, Department of Microbiology and Immunology, School of Biomedical Sciences, University of Otago
Professor Fiona Russell
Professor Fiona Russell Director, Child and Adolescent Health PhD Program, Department of Paediatrics, University of Melbourne; Senior Principal Research Fellow, Centre for International Child Health, WHO Collaborating Centre for Child and Neonatal Health Research and Training, D
Professor Bryan Williams (Hon) FRSNZ FAA
Professor Bryan Williams (Hon) FRSNZ FAA Emeritus Director and Distinguished Scientist, Hudson Institute of Medical Research, Hudson-Monash Paediatric Precision Medicine Program, Department of Molecular and Translational Science, Monash University Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences

© 2020 Australian Academy of Science

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