Coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2 or COVID-19) is categorized as a global pandemic, with over 2 million casualties reported world-wide till date. The incubation period of the virus has been studied by different scholars across the world for the greater benefit of humanity. In a research report published in the Lancet Microbe, the Stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions is highlighted by researchers from the School of Public Health, LKS Faculty of Medicine, University of Hong Kong.
The group of researchers had previously reported the detection of SARS-CoV-2 virus compounds in respiratory secretions and stools. In the latest research published in Lancet Microbe, they report the stability of SARS-CoV-2 in different environmental conditions.
For the study, the researchers diluted SARS-CoV-2 virus by virus transport medium (VTM; 6·8 log unit of 50% tissue culture infectious dose [TCID50] per mL), incubating for up to 14 days to test for the stability and surface contamination of the SARS-CoV-2 in different Temperature and Environnement conditions.
SARS-CoV-2 Stability in Different Temperature Conditions
The Coronavirus loses its infectivity in 14 days to 5 minutes when exposed to temperatures varying between 4°C to 70°C. s the temperature increases, the virus loses its stability as in the following table-
|Incubation Temperature||SARS-CoV-2 Virus infectivity Time|
To mitigate the risk of contamination, it is highly advisable to soak your clothes in hot water with a temperature above 60°C for 30 minutes before a thorough wash.
SARS-CoV-2 Surface Contamination
The virus takes 3 hours to 7 days to lose its infectivity across different surfaces it gets contacted with. The HKU Med study reported that SARS-CoV-2 virus is infective for a longer time on smoother surfaces like stainless steel or plastic. A tabulation of SARS-CoV-2 surface contamination is given as under-
|Surface Materials||SARS-CoV-2 Virus incubation Time|
|Printing and Tissue papers||3 Hours|
|Wooden surface and Fabric||2 Days|
|Glass and Banknote||4 Days|
|Stainless steel and Plastic||7 Days|
|Outer layer of Surgical mask||7 Days|
Surgical Masks are taken as protective wear against the rapid transmission of the Coronavirus. Infective traces of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are still detected after 7 days on the outer layer of these surgical masks. The HUK Med study therefore strongly recommends not to reuse these masks.
SARS-CoV-2 loss of Infectivity After Disinfectant Treatment
The HUK Med study also tested the SARS-CoV-2 infectivity when treated with different disinfectants. Except for hand soaps which reported a decline of 50% of virus infectivity in 5 minutes and a 100% reduction in infectivity after 15 minutes of usage, the viricidal effects of all disinfectants were noticed within 5 minutes of usage, as described below-
|Disinfectants at a working concentration||SARS-CoV-2 loss of Infectivity Time|
|Household Bleach (1:49)||5 Minutes|
|Ethanol (70%)||5 Minutes|
|Povidone-iodine (7.5%)||5 Minutes|
|Chloroxylenol (0.05%)||5 Minutes|
|Chlorhexidine (0.05%)||5 Minutes|
|Benzalkonium Chloride (0.1%)||5 Minutes|
|Hand Soaps||5-15 Minutes|
The study recommends that increased use of disinfectants may cause Coronavirus to lose its infectivity. Thus, it is highly advisable to practice infection control guidelines, respiratory and hand hygiene like washing hands for a minimum of 20 seconds and using hand sanitizer often to minimise the risk of the COVID-19 infection.
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