The new coronavirus is a respiratory illness, which means it typically spreads via airborne droplets. When an infected person coughs or sneezes, droplets carrying viral particles can land on someone else’s nose or mouth or get inhaled.
But a person can also get the coronavirus if they touch a surface or object that has viral particles on it and then touch their mouth, nose, or eyes. The lifespan of the virus on a surface — a subway pole, a stairwell handrail, or even money — depends on many factors, including the surrounding temperature, humidity, and type of surface.
New research published Wednesday from the National Institutes of Health in the U.S. suggests the virus can live up to four hours on copper, up to a day on cardboard, and up to three days on plastic and stainless steel. The coronavirus can also live in the air for up to three hours, the study authors found.