New Facts: Coronavirus stays in air for 30 minutes, travels 15-ft and survives for days on surfaces

  • New case study examined passengers travelling in bus with one infected person

  • Concludes that coronavirus survives easily in a closed environment

There have been 114,448 infected cases of coronavirus and more than 4,000 deaths so far, while our understanding of this killer virus is getting daily updates from scientists who are working round the clock to decipher how potential it is. One such study on bus passengers in a Chinese bus revealed that coronavirus could linger in the air for at least half an hour and last for days on surfaces and would be able to travel almost 15 feet!

New Understanding

The new case presents an entirely changing our present understanding of how to tackle COVID-19. This study by a team of epidemiologists from the Chinese government found that the duration the virus lasts on the surface depends on various factors like temperature and the nature of the surface.

The study said that the killer virus could survive for two to three days on glass, fabric, metal, plastic or paper at a temperature as high as 37 degree Celsius.

The case of Bus travelers studied

The research came to these results by studying a case of a dozen passengers traveling in a 48-seater AC bus with closed windows and passengers without masks which demonstrated how passengers contracted the virus from the only infected person in the bus. This happened before COVID-19 was even a national crisis in China, that was January 22. The study was done by procuring the CCTV footage of the camera installed in the bus and by scaling the distances between the seats.

"It can be confirmed that in a closed environment with air-conditioning, the transmission distance of the new coronavirus will exceed the commonly recognized safe distance," wrote the researchers in the study published in peer-review journal Practical Preventive Medicine last Friday.

Safe distance

Coronavirus IANS

The distance between the infected and the nearest passenger who got infected was less than 0.5 meters, and the farthest about 4.5 meters.The infection was contracted by a passenger who took the same bus half an hour after the infected person got off the bus, suggesting that the coronavirus can effectively survive in a closed air-conditioned environment for at least 30 minutes and cause disease and can travel almost 4.5 metres which is more than the commonly understood 1 - 2 metres, the study elaborates. It also raises the possibility of aerosolization of the coronavirus in a closed environment.

What was our previous understanding?

According to the fifth version of the prevention and control plan of the coronavirus published by China's National Health Commission on February 21, the major routes of the virus transmission are through respiratory droplets, contact and prolonged exposure to high concentrations of aerosol. This prompted health authorities to suggest about the "safe distance" of six feet in public as the US Centre for Disease Control recommends.

"Our knowledge about this virus's transmission is still limited," said the researchers.The researchers suggested to improve sanitation on public transport and to adjust the AC so it maximizes the volume of fresh air supplied.

This article was first published on March 10, 2020
Related topics : Coronavirus