- A new study has shown why the highly contagious novel coronavirus has exploded into a global pandemic
- The viral disease can remain viable and infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days
- The study appeared online in the New England Journal of Medicine on Tuesday, March 17
A new study has revealed that coronavirus can remain infectious in droplets in the air for hours and on surfaces up to days.
According to Reuters, scientists from the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID), part of the U.S. National Institutes of Health, carried out the study.
They attempted to mimic the virus deposited from an infected person onto everyday surfaces in a household or hospital setting, such as through coughing or touching objects.
They used a device to dispense an aerosol that duplicated the microscopic droplets created in a cough or a sneeze.
The scientists then investigated how long the virus remained infectious on these surfaces.
The tests show that when the virus is carried by the droplets released when someone coughs or sneezes, it remains viable, or able to still infect people, in aerosols for at least three hours.
On plastic and stainless steel, the viable virus could be detected after three days. On cardboard, the virus was not viable after 24 hours. On copper, it took 4 hours for the virus to become inactivated.
Already China has approved human safety trials of an experimental vaccine for the COVID-19.
The trial of the coronavirus vaccine will take place at China’s Academy of Military Medical Sciences and the Hong Kong-listed biotech firm CanSino Biologics.
Scientists estimate that it will take 12-18 months for the vaccine to become available for widespread use.
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Meanwhile, a Chinese foreign ministry official says the U.S. Army may have had a role in spreading coronavirus.
“It might be U.S army who brought the epidemic to Wuhan,” Zhao Lijian, a foreign ministry spokesman, said in a tweet.
“Be transparent! Make public your data! The US owes us an explanation!” he added.
He later followed up with another tweet urging his 284,000 followers to share an article arguing that the virus originated in the U.S.
In a related development, the wife of Canadian prime minister Sophie Trudeau is one of the prominent people who have tested positive for coronavirus.
Mrs Trudeau announced on Thursday, March 12 that she had tested positive for the viral disease and plans to remain in isolation for the next two weeks.
“Although I’m experiencing uncomfortable symptoms of the virus, I will be back on my feet soon,” she said in a statement.
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