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Coronavirus survives less time on cloth, paper than on glass: Study

Prashasti Awasthi Mumbai | Updated on February 16, 2021

The virus survived for only three hours and two days on paper and cloth, respectively, according to a study by IIT (Bomaby)

A new study by researchers from the Indian Institute of Technology (IIT) Bombay found that the coronavirus may survive for significantly less time on porous surfaces, including paper and clothes.

The study, published in the journal Physics of Fluids, noted that SARS-CoV-2 respiratory droplets also form fomite upon falling on a surface. This serves as a source for infection spread.

For the study, the researchers examined the drying of droplets on impermeable and porous surfaces.

Findings of the study

The findings suggested that a droplet remains liquid for a much shorter time on a porous surface, making it less favorable to the survival of the virus. The research stated that the virus can survive for four days on glass, and seven days on plastic and stainless steel.

However, the virus survived for only three hours and two days on paper and cloth, respectively, the researchers said.

Study author Sanghamitro Chatterjee from IIT Bombay said: “Based on our study, we recommend that furniture in hospitals and offices, made of impermeable material, such as glass, stainless steel, or laminated wood, be covered with a porous material, such as cloth, to reduce the risk of infection upon touch.”

The study also suggests that seats in public places, such as parks, shopping malls, restaurants, and railway or airport waiting halls, could be covered with cloth in order to reduce the infection spread.

According to the researchers, 99.9 per cent of the droplets' liquid content for both impermeable and porous surfaces evaporated within the first few minutes.

They observed that after this initial state, a microscopic thin residual liquid film remains on the exposed solid parts, where the virus can still survive.

The team discovered that the evaporation of this remnant thin film is much faster in the case of porous surfaces as compared to impermeable surfaces.

The researchers said that the study findings, such as the droplets liquid phase lifetime of approximately six hours on paper, will be particularly relevant in certain contexts, like schools.

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Published on February 16, 2021
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