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new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine has shown that COVID-19 can live in the air and on surfaces for hours and even days. The virus can stay alive for 4 hours on copper, 24 hours on cardboard, 48 hours on stainless steel, and 72 hours on plastics.
This is significantly longer than its detectability as an aerosol in the air, as they showed it to only be present for 3 hrs in a perfectly still room.
So Should We Panic?
In one word, NO.
Firstly, while the COVID-19 virus may still be present on a piece of plastic after a day or so; what’s left is less than 0.1% of the original virus material. So we could say that while infection is possible, it is unlikely to happen with what’s left of the virus after a few days.
The only time the novel coronavirus is an aerosol is during COVID testing or in a hospital setting due to breathing related operations.
So, when someone coughs, sneezes or ‘sprays it rather than saying it’. They’re not releasing an aerosol of the virus into the air. They are putting droplets into the air. This means the virus is not floating around in the air itself, but in water molecules that are heavier than air. Because these droplets are heavier than the air someone has sprayed them into, they don’t go further than a meter from the sick person and they are quicker to settle down onto surfaces.
This is both a positive and a negative. The coronavirus loves to live in surfaces. Whether someone has sprayed COVID onto a surface or wiped it on after sneezing into their hands, that surface is now highly contagious for at least a day. This is how the virus mostly spreads.
That’s why you need to avoid unsanitized surfaces like the plague – because they are spreading the plague.