The novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, which causes COVID-19 has turned out to be a new strain about which we have no previous data or any clue about its properties.

It has evolved as a natural process into a new strain after the strains of the Coronavirus that caused the SARS epidemic of 2003 in China and the MERS epidemic of 2012 in Saudi Arabia.

The novel coronavirus has a tremendous capacity to spread and a mortality rate of 3.4 according to recent studies.

Its contagious nature can be gauged from the fact that within 100 days of it being first discovered, it has attained pandemic proportions with almost all countries in the world affected.

Complete lockdowns have been enforced throughout many countries but the spread continues unabated. The world waits anxiously and impatiently for the development of a vaccine against this disease.

The virus spreads through the air and by transmission through a touch of contaminated surfaces. In each of these mediums, it has a different lifespan. The infected person can start spreading the virus even before the corona symptoms set in.

The lifespan of coronavirus in the body

The lifespan of the Coronavirus inside the body of the infected person has been found to vary.

The shortest period that the virus lived in the respiratory tract of a survivor was eight days while in some cases it was found to have survived for as long as 37 days. The administration of antiviral drugs did not shorten the lifespan of the virus.

  • In patients with severe illness, the virus was found to live in the respiratory tract for 19 days.
  • In critically ill patients, the virus was found for 24 days.
  • In patients who were ultimately discharged, the virus was detected in their body for 20 days.
  • In patients who died, the virus was detectable until the death of the patient.

The lifespan of coronavirus on surfaces

The coronavirus can live on various surfaces. However, the duration of its life varies on different kinds of surfaces.

The virus can contaminate the surfaces in two ways:

1.       The droplets that the infected person coughs out or sneezes out travel a few feet in the air and ultimately settle down on a surface, which can be a tabletop or any object on it, a telephone instrument, a door handle, utensils, fabric; the list is endless.

2.      The infected person touches his face often and his hands carry the virus particles, which land on a surface when the person touches it with his hands.

According to a new study, the lifespan of the Coronavirus is anywhere between three hours to three days depending on the type the surface. Some surfaces are conducive while some are not. Again, the surrounding temperature and humidity affect the virus’s lifespan.

There are some figures that apply to the SARS coronavirus, but Rachel Graham, an epidemiologist at the University of North Carolina says that these findings likely apply to the new Coronavirus also.

The SARS coronavirus – at a temperature of 68 degrees Fahrenheit (room temperature) exhibits the following lifespan on various surfaces:

  • Virus disintegrates during its first day on cardboard
  • The virus lives longest on polypropylene plastic surviving for up to 72 hours. However, the amount of relevant virus reduces sharply over this time.
  • Steel: 2 days
  • Metal and ceramics: 5 days
  • Aluminum: 2 to 8 hours
  • Latex: Less than 8 hours
  • Wood and glass: 4 days
  • Copper: only four hours
  • On fabric, it survives for 9 hours
  • On the hands for 10 minutes
  • Currently, there is not enough scientific evidence on how long the virus survives on currency notes. According to the business insider, disease transmission from money is rare. All the same, in today’s scenario, everything and everyone is guilty unless proved innocent. So, take proper hygienic care while handling cash, credit card, coins and everything else.

How to disinfect contaminated surfaces?

The human coronaviruses can be efficiently rendered inactive on surfaces within a short time if the surfaces are cleaned with solutions containing 62%-71% ethanol alcohol, and 0.5% hydrogen peroxide or 0.1% sodium hypochlorite.

How to cover cardboard risk of packed foods?

Your food deliveries are essentially in cardboard boxes. To avoid the risk of being infected, remove the cardboard and dump it safely. Then wash your hands with soap and water thoroughly.

Is your food safe?

There is no evidence that the coronavirus is transmitted through food.

The lifespan of Coronavirus in air

Exposure to sunlight does not kill the coronavirus.

In aerosol form

The coronavirus in the aerosol form can stay in the air for a lifespan of up to three hours. Whether the virus can infect another person during this time and in this form is a matter of debate.

The virus does not stay in the air at infectious levels to be a risk to most people who are not near an infected person. You are at risk if you are within 3 feet distance of the infected person for a sufficient amount of time.

The viruses could remain airborne for up to three hours in fine particles known as aerosols. However, it seems established that aerosol is not considered as the infective mode of transmission.

In droplet form

The real threat of exposure to the novel Coronavirus is through the air via the tiny and larger droplets that the infected person coughs or sneezes out.

According to research by scientists at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, coughing spreads the droplets as far as six meters, and sneezing can send the droplets as far as eight meters. These corona laden droplets can stay floating in the air for up to 10 minutes.

Within this time, any healthy person within a close distance of 3 feet or so can inhale these contaminated droplets, which enter his respiratory tract and the virus starts multiplying inside the host at a tremendous speed. Within a week, the virus count reaches billions.

The coughed out virus, which have not been inhaled, stay in the air for 10 minutes then drift down to settle on surfaces waiting for an innocent hand to pick them up by touch.