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How Long Does The Coronavirus Last?

March 17, 2020

Based on the most recent studies, coronavirus can last as many as 20 days in humans and up to nine days on certain surfaces in your home. 

The virus is spread through droplets transmitted into the air from coughing or sneezing. If you’re nearby, you can take those droplets in through their nose, mouth or eyes. Coronavirus particles have spiked proteins sticking out from their surfaces that hook onto your cell membranes and allow the virus’s genetic material to enter your cells.

It can take anywhere from two to 14 days before symptoms might present. At this time, the average incubation period seems to be around five days.

What are the symptoms of coronavirus?

It’s important to be vigilant about keeping the disease from spreading. So, let’s take a look at how long coronavirus can last in humans and your home, and what you can do to decrease your risk.

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last In Humans?

Usually, the symptoms are mild and last for just a few days. Researchers say that depending on the severity of the sickness, some cases of coronavirus are lasting up to 20 days. A World Health Organization report from China found that it took three to six weeks for critical cases to be resolved, with the end result being either patient recovery or death. In rare cases, a coronavirus infection can lead to a more serious problem like pneumonia.

If you are sick, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention asks that you:

  • Stay home, except to get medical care
  • Avoid public areas
  • Avoid public transportation 
  • Separate yourself from other people and animals in your home
  • Limit contact with people and your pets

Researchers with The World Health Organization say about  80% of people recover from the symptoms of COVID-19 without needing any special medical treatment. Older adults and people with compromised immune systems are at the highest risk of developing more severe symptoms.

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last in Your Home?

Since there are no specific treatments available for coronavirus, early containment and prevention of further spread are critical to stop the outbreak and to control the spread of the virus. 

A group of researchers recently analyzed 22 coronavirus studies. The full results appeared in “The Journal of Hospital Infection.”

They found that human coronaviruses such as Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronavirus, Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS) coronavirus or endemic human coronaviruses (HCoV) can persist on inanimate surfaces like metal, glass or plastic for up to nine days.

Here’s a look at the table the researchers put together. It lists different surface types, the type of virus infecting the surface, the temperature of the surface, and how long the virus lasted on each surface (persistence).

how long does the coronravirus last

You can see that the virus lasted longest on plastic, but it can also last up to five days on wood, metal and ceramic surfaces (like a toilet). 

Keep Disinfecting Surfaces in Your Home

The good news is the same researchers also found that the virus can be efficiently inactivated by surface disinfection procedures. 

Bleach is a water-based solution commonly used as a disinfectant. It can be purchased with a concentration ranging from 5.25% to 8.25% of the active ingredient sodium hypochlorite (NaClO). But the study found that a concentration as small as 0.1% of sodium hypochlorite is effective at inactivating coronavirus in 1 minute. That is why the World Health Organization recommends a dilution of 1:50 of standard bleach in the coronavirus setting.

Ethanol also proved effective. For the disinfection of small surfaces, WHO recommends products with a concentration of 70% ethanol. You can also use a solution with 0.5% hydrogen peroxide, as it revealed a similar efficacy against coronavirus.

How Long Does The Coronavirus Last in Cold Weather?

Based on earlier coronaviruses, they seem to thrive in colder weather. A recent study out of China suggests that the pathogen appears to spread fastest at 8.72 degrees Celsius, or about 48 degrees Fahrenheit. That’s right around the average temperature in Ohio in March. It’s also why countries in colder climates are adopting the strictest control measures. But experts caution this novel coronavirus may not necessarily go away in warmer weather.

Be Extra Careful In Places Like These

If you are not able to work from home or you must go out in public for an extended period, be mindful of these places:

Bathrooms

Bathrooms are a welcoming environment for coronaviruses. Their surfaces are cold and moist, and they are typically full of ceramic material, which coronavirus can live on for as long as five days.

Airplane

In-flight oxygen is probably of higher quality than the air in your home. Researchers say that If you have an infected person in the front of the plane, and you’re in the back of the plane, your risk is close to zero simply because the area of exposure is thought to be roughly 6 feet from the infected person.

Restaurants, Offices, Movie Theaters

WHO scientists say there’s no difference between sitting in a restaurant, office or movie theater: If you’re near an infected person, you’re at risk. If you’re seated near an infected person who coughs or sneezes and/or you touch a contaminated surface and then your face without properly washing your hands, you’re at risk. 

Stay Vigilant, Stay Safe

Scientists in China are already doing studies that look for antibodies to the virus in the blood of the people who were infected and then recovered. These studies are the only surefire way to confirm that someone has been infected with SARS-CoV-2 after the person recovers.

Until there is a vaccine, your best defense is to keep washing your hands regularly with soap and water, or by using hand sanitizer if you’re not near a sink. Also, keep disinfecting surface areas in your home, especially those where the virus can live longer. The Ohio Department of Health has a call center if you have any questions about the coronavirus outbreak. 

And since older people are more susceptible to infectious diseases like coronavirus, we want to provide you with some information on some of the other health issues that are most concerning to older adults. Our guide “The Most Concerning Health Issues for Older Adults” is full of valuable information, including the disease that affects 25% of all older adults in the United States.

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