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Coronavirus Can Live On Surfaces For Up To Nine Days, Study Finds

Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
By Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager
Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine.
Image by Santi Nunez / Stocksy
February 7, 2020

The novel coronavirus 2019-nCoV has been declared a public health emergency by the World Health Organization. Despite people's fears of becoming infected, it's unclear how coronavirus can be passed from one person to another or how long those germs might live on public surfaces. Thankfully, by focusing on former strains of the virus, researchers were able to provide some answers. 

The study, published Thursday in the Journal of Hospital Infections, found severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) coronavirus and Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus pathogens can survive on nonliving surfaces for up to nine days. While the standard life span of these germs is four to five days, low-temperature, humid environments can prolong their survival. 

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How do I protect against them?

There is still no treatment for coronavirus, so taking preventive measures is the most effective way to protect against the infection. Washing your hands or using hand sanitizer when soap and water aren't available are effective ways to protect against dangerous germs. 

Disinfecting hard surfaces, which coronavirus might be living on, is also important. The virus can spread from hands to other objects frequently touched. "In hospitals, these can be door handles...but also call buttons, bedside tables, bed frames and other objects in the direct vicinity of patients, which are often made of metal or plastic," said researcher G√ľnter Kampf, Ph.D.

The study found disinfectant solutions made of ethanol (a common type of alcohol, usually found in Purell), hydrogen peroxide, or sodium hypochlorite based (aka bleach) are effective against coronaviruses. When applied appropriately, they can reduce the number of pathogens from 1 million down to 100, according to the research.

Disinfecting surfaces that might be contaminated and practicing good hand hygiene are "sufficient to significantly reduce the risk of infection," Kampf said. 

Though this research was conducted on various other strains of coronavirus, the scientists suspect the results can be applied to the current strain, called 2019-CoV based on the comparability of each strain.

This information might lead scientists one step closer to finding a treatment for the infectious disease. In the meantime, prioritize your health with these 12 all-natural immune-boosting tips.

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Abby Moore
Abby Moore
Editorial Operations Manager

Abby Moore is an editorial operations manager at mindbodygreen. She earned a B.A. in Journalism from The University of Texas at Austin and has previously written for Tribeza magazine. She has covered topics ranging from regenerative agriculture to celebrity entrepreneurship. Moore worked on the copywriting and marketing team at Siete Family Foods before moving to New York.