The coronavirus that causes COVID-19 can survive on items such as banknotes and phones for up to 28 days in cool, dark conditions, according to a study by Australia’s national science agency.

Screen Shot 2020 10 13 at 8.26.30 AM - Coronavirus ‘can survive for 28 days on surfaces’ – study
Researchers at Australia’s national science agency have found that the coronavirus can survive on surfaces like mobile phone screens for up to 28 days in cool, dark conditions (Philip FONG AFP/File / MANILA BULLETIN)

Researchers at CSIRO’s disease preparedness center tested the longevity of SARS-CoV-2 in the dark at three temperatures, showing survival rates decreased as conditions became hotter, the agency said Monday.

The scientists found that at 20 degrees Celsius (68 degrees Fahrenheit), SARSCoV-2 was “extremely robust’’ on smooth surfaces – like mobile phone screens – surviving for 28 days on glass, steel and plastic banknotes.

At 30 degrees Celsius (86 degrees Fahrenheit), the survival rate dropped to seven days and plunged to just 24 hours at 40 degrees Celsius (104 degrees Fahrenheit).

The virus survived for shorter periods on porous surfaces such as cotton – up to 14 days at the lowest temperatures and less than 16 hours at the highest – the researchers said.

This was “significantly longer’’ than previous studies which found the disease could survive for up to four days on nonporous surfaces, according to the paper published in the peer-reviewed Virology Journal.

Trevor Drew, director of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, said the study involved drying samples of the virus on different materials before testing them.

He added that if a person was “careless with these materials and touched them and then licked your hands or touched your eyes or your nose, you might well get infected upwards of two weeks after they had been contaminated.”

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