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Covid can survive on phone screens and bank notes for four weeks

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency found that Covid was “extremely robust” at room temperature but survived for less time at hotter temperatures.

Covid phone screens
Covid phone screens

CSIRO, Australia’s national science agency found that Covid was “extremely robust” at room temperature but survived for less time at hotter temperatures. The experiment was carried out by drying virus in an artificial mucus on different surfaces, at concentrations like those found in infected patients, and then re-isolating the virus over a month in complete darkness.

Covid can survive four weeks on phone screens

The deputy director of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, Dr Debbie Eagles said: “Our results show that SARS-CoV-2 can remain infectious on surfaces for long periods of time, reinforcing the need for good practices such as regular handwashing and cleaning surfaces. At 20 degrees Celsius, which is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens and plastic banknotes. For context, similar experiments for Influenza A have found that it survived on surfaces for 17 days, which highlights just how resilient SARS-CoV-2 is.”

The research indicates that Covid survives longer on smooth surfaces such as glass, stainless steel, and vinyl, compared to porous surfaces such as cotton. Chris Smith, who works at the University of Cambridge’s department of pathology, said: “If someone has the virus on their fingers when they press the button, they could deposit virus particles there, which could remain viable for long enough to infect the next person who touches that surface.

He elaborated that how long Covid remains depends on the surface, as well as the environmental conditions so for instance in a nice sunny, warm place with wind whipping past, the survival time will reduce dramatically. The plastics which most buttons are made from allow Covid to survive for anywhere from hours to days.

That said, Transport for London ran a test of its own to judge whether Covid was being transmitted on their services. Swab tested escalators and Oyster readers at Waterloo and Euston stations, the grab handles on a Northern line train, and the pushbuttons and handrails on a 205 bus. A TfL spokesman announced: “All results were negative, with no Covid-19 being detected at any of the sampling sites.”

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