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Coronavirus can stay on some surfaces for days

A United Parcel Service driver loads boxes during a delivery in downtown Seattle. Amid the coronavirus outbreak, UPS and FedEx have stopped requiring signatures for packages. (AP Photo/Ted S. Warren)

According to a study in the New England Journal of Medicine, the novel coronavirus can remain on surfaces and in aerosols for  days, depending the on virus shed and the surface material.

Handling mail amid coronavirus: Low risk but wash your hands

The University of Alabama at Birmingham further examined the study and broke down the results.

“The virus was more stable on plastic and stainless steel than cardboard,” said Todd Green, PhD, virologist and associate professor in the UAB Department of Microbiology.

The virus was detected for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces, on cardboard up to 24 hours, and less than four hours on copper. As the amount of the virus on a surface decreases, it is likely that risk of infection would decrease as well.

UAB said that the half-life of the virus in the air is about an hour, though it could still be measured in the air for up to three hours.

Green said these measures could be impacted by a number of factors, including humidity, temperature, or wind if you’re outside.

It is still less likely for people to be infected by touching a contaminated surface than direct exposure or contact with someone who is sick. However, cleaning surfaces that are frequently touched, washing your hands often, and avoiding touching your face are all important in continuing to prevent the spread.

WA Department of Health: ‘No reason’ to disinfect groceries

Washington State Department of Health officials reiterated this point that while it is “also possible for the virus to spread through droplets on hard surfaces, this is also not the main way it spreads.”

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