Australian researchers have found the virus responsible for Covid-19 can survive for up to 28 days on common surfaces such as mobile phone screens or even banknotes.
The research - undertaken at the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness (ACDP) in Geelong, with collaboration from New Zealand - found the virus survived longer at lower temperatures; tended to survive longer on non-porous or smooth surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and vinyl, compared to porous complex surfaces such as cotton; and survived longer on paper banknotes than plastic banknotes.
Results from the study "The effect of temperature on persistence of SARS-CoV-2 on common surfaces" were first published in Virology Journal.
"These findings demonstrate SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious for significantly longer time periods than generally considered possible," the authors of the study concluded. "These results could be used to inform improved risk mitigation procedures to prevent the fomite spread of Covid-19."
"The data presented in this study demonstrates that infectious SARS-CoV-2 can be recovered from non-porous surfaces for at least 28 days at ambient temperature and humidity (20 °C and 50 per cent RH)," the research team from Australia's national science agency CSIRO reported.
"Increasing the temperature while maintaining humidity drastically reduced the survivability of the virus to as little as 24 hours at 40C.
"The persistence of SARS-CoV-2 demonstrated in this study is pertinent to the public health and transport sectors. This data should be considered in strategies designed to mitigate the risk of fomite transmission during the current pandemic response."
CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall told SciTechDaily.Com he hoped the new findings could help deal with hotspots where clusters continued to infect due to traces of the virus on surfaces.
"Establishing how long the virus really remains viable on surfaces enables us to more accurately predict and mitigate its spread, and do a better job of protecting our people," Dr Marshall told the site.
"Together, we hope this suite of solutions from science will break down the barriers between us, and shift focus to dealing with specific virus hotspots so we can get the economy back on track.
"We can only defeat this virus as Team Australia with the best Australian science, working alongside industry, government, research and the Australian community."
CSIRO, in partnership with Australian Department of Defence, undertook the studies in collaboration with the 5 Nation Research and Development (5RD) Council, which comprises representatives from New Zealand, the UK, USA, Canada and Australia.
Each country is conducting research on different aspects of virus survivability with the results shared as they become available.