What do viruses need to survive

How long coronaviruses survive on surfaces

19.02.2020

Coronaviruses can survive at room temperature for up to nine days on surfaces such as door handles or hospital bedside tables and remain infectious. This is what researchers from Greifswald and Bochum report and explain how such coronaviruses can be inactivated or reduced.

How long do coronaviruses live on surfaces such as doorknobs or hospital bedside tables? What are the effective means of killing them? Researchers from Greifswald and Bochum have compiled and published the answers that are based on reliable scientific facts (see Journal of Hospital Infection, online publication on February 6, 2020).

The novel coronavirus (Sars-CoV-2) is making headlines around the world. Since there is no specific therapy against it, the prevention of infections is particularly important in order to contain the wave of disease. Like all droplet infections, the virus spreads through hands and surfaces that are frequently touched. "In hospitals, these can be door handles, for example, but also bells, bedside tables, bed frames and other objects in the immediate vicinity of patients, which are often made of metal or plastic," explains Prof. Dr. Günter Kampf from the Institute for Hygiene and Environmental Medicine at the University Medical Center Greifswald.

Together with Prof. Dr. Eike Steinmann, holder of the Chair of Molecular and Medical Virology at the Ruhr-Universität Bochum (RUB), he had already compiled comprehensive findings from 22 studies on coronaviruses and their inactivation for a planned specialist book. "In the current situation, it seemed to us the best to publish these secured scientific facts in advance in order to provide all information at a glance," says Eike Steinmann.

The evaluated work, which deals, among other things, with the pathogens Sars and Mers coronavirus, showed, for example, that the viruses can stay on surfaces at room temperature for up to nine days and remain infectious. On average, they survive between four and five days. "Cold and high humidity increase their service life even more," says Kampf.

Tests with various disinfectant solutions showed that agents based on ethanol, hydrogen peroxide or sodium hypochlorite are effective against the coronaviruses. If these active ingredients are used in the appropriate concentration, they reduce the number of infectious coronaviruses by four so-called log levels within one minute - for example from one million to just 100 disease-causing particles. If preparations based on other active ingredients are used, the product should be proven to be at least effective against enveloped viruses (“limited virucidal”). "Usually that's enough to significantly reduce the risk of infection," says Günter Kampf.

The experts assume that the results from the studies on other coronaviruses can be transferred to the novel virus. "Different coronaviruses were examined and the results were all similar," says Eike Steinmann.

Source: Ruhr University Bochum

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