The virus responsible for Covid-19 can remain infectious on surfaces such as banknotes, phone screens and stainless steel for 28 days, researchers say.
The findings from Australia’s national science agency suggest SARS-Cov-2 can survive for far longer than thought.
However, the experiment was conducted in the dark. UV light has already been shown to kill the virus.
Some experts have also thrown doubt on the actual threat posed by surface transmission in real life.
The virus is most commonly transmitted when people cough, sneeze or talk.
Previous laboratory studies have found that SARS-Cov-2 can survive for two to three days on bank notes and glass, and up to six days on plastic and stainless steel, although results vary.
The latest research from Australian agency CSIRO found the virus was “extremely robust,” surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens and both plastic and paper banknotes, when kept at 20C (68F), which is about room temperature.
In comparison, the flu virus can survive in the same circumstances for 17 days.
“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,” said CSIRO chief executive Dr Larry Marshall.
However, Prof Ron Eccles, former director Common Cold Centre at Cardiff University, criticised the study and said the suggestion that the virus could survive for 28 days was causing “unnecessary fear in the public”.
“Viruses are spread on surfaces from mucus in coughs and sneezes and dirty fingers and this study did not use fresh human mucus as a vehicle to spread the virus,” Prof Eccles said.
Source: BBC News