Stability and Infectivity of Coronaviruses in Inanimate Environments

World J Clin Cases. 2020 Apr 26;8(8):1391-1399. doi: 10.12998/wjcc.v8.i8.1391.


Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) is a highly contagious virus that can transmit through respiratory droplets, aerosols, or contacts. Frequent touching of contaminated surfaces in public areas is therefore a potential route of SARS-CoV-2 transmission. The inanimate surfaces have often been described as a source of nosocomial infections. However, summaries on the transmissibility of coronaviruses from contaminated surfaces to induce the coronavirus disease 2019 are rare at present. This review aims to summarize data on the persistence of different coronaviruses on inanimate surfaces. The literature was systematically searched on Medline without language restrictions. All reports with experimental evidence on the duration persistence of coronaviruses on any type of surface were included. Most viruses from the respiratory tract, such as coronaviruses, influenza, SARS-CoV, or rhinovirus, can persist on surfaces for a few days. Persistence time on inanimate surfaces varied from minutes to up to one month, depending on the environmental conditions. SARS-CoV-2 can be sustained in air in closed unventilated buses for at least 30 min without losing infectivity. The most common coronaviruses may well survive or persist on surfaces for up to one month. Viruses in respiratory or fecal specimens can maintain infectivity for quite a long time at room temperature. Absorbent materials like cotton are safer than unabsorbent materials for protection from virus infection. The risk of transmission via touching contaminated paper is low. Preventive strategies such as washing hands and wearing masks are critical to the control of coronavirus disease 2019.

Keywords: Coronavirus disease 2019; Inanimate surface; Infectivity; Severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2; Survival; Transmission.

Publication types

  • Review