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COVID-19

Study reveals coronavirus can survive for nearly a month on phones, banknotes

Smooth surfaces such as banknotes and mobile phone screens can harbour active coronavirus cells for up to 28 days, an Australian study has found.
Smooth surfaces such as banknotes and mobile phone screens can harbour active coronavirus cells for up to 28 days, an Australian study has found. © REUTERS/Jason Lee/Illustration/File Photo

Australian scientists say the virus that causes Covid-19 can survive for up to 28 days on common surfaces such as mobile phones and banknotes – outstripping flu survival rates.

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The national science agency, the CSIRO, on Monday said experiments carried out in a controlled environment suggested SARS-Cov-2 lived longer on smooth, rather than porous surfaces.

Lab researchers from the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong found the virus was “extremely robust” in temperatures of 20 degrees, with its survival rate dropping as conditions got hotter.

At 30 degrees Celsius, the survival rate dropped to seven days, and at 40 degrees it lived for a mere 24 hours.

Tests done in dark

The virus longevity tests, however, were carried out in the dark. Because UV light is known to reduce the life of the virus, it is unsure if the results are an accurate indicator of surface transmission in real life.

“It is a factor, and that’s why the outside is probably safer than inside because UV light is there and the virus can be inactivated on playgrounds and things in the sunshine,” ACDP director Trevor Drew told Australia’s national broadcaster, the ABC.

While it is possible to contract Covid-19 by touching infected surfaces, Drew emphasised that the virus is primarily spread by people – through coughing, sneezing and talking.

There is also evidence it can be spread by particles hanging in the air, although more research is needed.

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