Researchers at CSIRO, Australia's national science agency, have found that the virus responsible for Covid-19, can survive for up to 28 days on common surfaces including banknotes, mobile phone screens and stainless steel.
The research, which found that the virus survived longer on paper banknotes than plastic banknotes, will re-ignite the debate over the safety of paper cash during the pandemic.
Debbie Eagles deputy director of the Australian Centre for Disease Preparedness, says: “At 20 degrees Celsius, which is about room temperature, we found that the virus was extremely robust, surviving for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass found on mobile phone screens and plastic banknotes.“
The results appear to contradict previous statements by central banks and the World Health Organisation on the relative safety of banknotes.
The European Central Bank in April published research which indicated that coronaviruses can survive more easily on a stainless steel surface than on our cotton banknotes, with survival rates approximately 10 to 100 times higher in the first few hours after contamination.
Other analyses indicate that it is much more difficult for a virus to be transferred from porous surfaces such as cotton banknotes than from smooth surfaces like plastic.
The CSIRO study was carried out in the dark, to remove the effect of UV light as research has demonstrated direct sunlight can rapidly inactivate the virus.
Says Eagles: “While the precise role of surface transmission, the degree of surface contact and the amount of virus required for infection is yet to be determined, establishing how long this virus remains viable on surfaces is critical for developing risk mitigation strategies in high contact areas.”
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