By Chris Ciaccia | Fox News

Previous studies have demonstrated the novel coronavirus can live on certain surfaces, such as plastic or cardboard, for different periods of time. A new study suggests it can live on surgical masks for one week, but it is susceptible to ‘”standard disinfection methods.”

“Strikingly, a detectable level of infectious virus could still be present on the outer layer of a surgical mask on day 7 (∼0·1% of the original inoculum),” researchers wrote in the study published in The Lancet.

The researchers also measured the stability of the virus at different temperatures and on different surfaces, with varying results.


The virus is “sensitive to heat,” according to the researchers, showing stability at 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) with an infectious titre (concentration of an antibody) found after 14 days. As the temperature increased to 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit), “the time for virus inactivation was reduced to 5 [minutes].”

The researchers did not find any infectious virus on printing and tissue papers after a 3-hour incubation and no infectious virus was spotted on wood and cloth on day 2. However, the virus is slightly more stable on surfaces such as glass and banknotes (no detection after day 4) and stainless steel and plastic (day 7).

“Overall, SARS-CoV-2 can be highly stable in a favorable environment, but it is also susceptible to standard disinfection methods,” the researchers added in the study, published April 2.

The researchers used a number of disinfectants, including different concentrations of household bleach and hand soap.

“This is exactly why it is very important if you are wearing a surgical mask you don’t touch the outside of the mask,” co-author of the new study, Malik Peiris, told the South China Morning Post. “Because you can contaminate your hands, and if you touch your eyes you could be transferring the virus to your eyes.”

A separate study published in March that has not been peer-reviewed found the virus could stay on stainless steel and plastic for anywhere between two and three days.

SARS-CoV-2 is largely a respiratory illness and is widely believed to spread from droplets from coughing or sneezing.

As of Wednesday morning, more than 1.44 million coronavirus cases have been diagnosed worldwide, including more than 399,000 in the U.S., the most impacted country in the world.

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