Coronavirus Can Persist for Four Weeks on Banknotes, Study Finds

(Bloomberg) -
The new coronavirus can remain infectious on banknotes, glass and other common surfaces for weeks. This is based on research by the top Australian biosafety laboratory, which highlighted risks from paper money, touchscreen devices, and grab bars and rails.
Scientists from the Australian Center for Disease Prevention showed that SARS-CoV-2 is "extremely robust" and can survive for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass on cell phone screens and plastic banknotes at room temperature or 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit). This corresponds to a survival of 17 days for the flu virus.
According to the study published Monday in the Virology Journal, virus survival on some surfaces dropped to less than a day at 40 degrees Celsius. The results show that the coronavirus, which causes Covid-19, survives longer in cooler weather, which may make it more difficult to control in winter than in summer. The research is also helping to more accurately predict and mitigate the spread of the pandemic, the researchers said.
"Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious on surfaces for long periods of time, compounding the need for best practices like regular hand washing and surface cleaning," said Debbie Eagles, the centre's deputy director, in an email sent statement.
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The coronavirus tended to survive longer on non-porous or smooth surfaces than on porous complex surfaces like cotton.
The research was funded by the Australian Department of Defense. The coronavirus was dried in an artificial slime on various surfaces in concentrations similar to those in samples from infected patients and then isolated again for over a month. The study was also done in the dark to eliminate the effects of ultraviolet light, as research has shown that direct sunlight can quickly inactivate the virus.
The time it takes to achieve a 50% reduction in the amount of virus present on the surfaces examined at different temperatures is given below:
"While the precise role of surface transmission, the level of surface contact and the amount of virus required to infect remain to be determined, determining how long this virus will remain viable on surfaces is critical to developing risk reduction strategies in high-contact areas . " Eagles said.
Transmission risk
Resistance to glass is an important finding as touchscreen devices such as cell phones, ATMs, supermarket self-service checkouts, and airport check-in machines are high-touch surfaces that may not be cleaned regularly and therefore pose a transmission risk for SARS - CoV-2, said the researchers in the work.
They found the longer survival time of SARS-CoV-2 than the seasonal flu on banknotes "of particular concern given the frequency of spread and the potential for the transmission of viable viruses both between individuals and geographic locations".
Before SARS-CoV-2 was declared a pandemic, China had begun decontaminating its paper currency, suggesting that there were concerns about transmission via paper banknotes at the time, the researchers said, noting the US and South Korea as well Banknotes have quarantined the pandemic.
Coronavirus survival on stainless steel in cooler temperatures could help explain Covid-19 outbreaks associated with meat processing and refrigeration rooms, the authors said. Their data support the results of a study showing SARS-CoV-2 survival in fresh and frozen foods as well.
"Research can also help explain the apparent persistence and spread of SARS-CoV-2 in cool environments with high levels of lipid or protein contamination, such as meat processing plants, and how we can better address this risk," said Trevor Drew, director of the Australian Center for Disease Preparation, said the statement.
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