How long does coronavirus live on surfaces and can you catch it from food packaging?

6 April 2020, 18:01 | Updated: 6 April 2020, 18:06

The latest expert advice on catching coronavirus from surfaces and food pakcaging
The latest expert advice on catching coronavirus from surfaces and food pakcaging. Picture: Getty
Polly Foreman

By Polly Foreman

The latest expert advice on how long Covid-19 lives on different surfaces, and whether you can catch it from contaminated surfaces.

The UK public has been told to stay in their homes unless absolutely necessary to help limit the spread of coronavirus.

Introducing lockdown measures across the country, the government told people not to leave their homes for any other reason other than work, medical reasons, a once-daily exercise, or going to the shops for food.

Read more: Woman fined £660 for having no good reason to be at train station during lockdown

We have also been told to ensure to wash our hands regularly and thoroughly with soap to destroy potential germs we may have picked up from surfaces.

Experts believe that coronavirus can live on some surfaces for up to a few days
Experts believe that coronavirus can live on some surfaces for up to a few days. Picture: Getty

But how long does coronavirus live on surfaces? Here is the latest expert advice:

Covid-19 is a new virus, and it is not yet known how long is can survive on surfaces.

A new study by The New England Journal of Medicine claims the virus can last for up to 72 hours on plastic and stainless steel, and that it can live for up to 24 hours on cardboard.

It is also thought by some experts that the virus lasts longer on shiny, hard surfaces such as plastic and steel.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) states: "Studies suggest that coronaviruses (including preliminary information on the COVID-19 virus) may persist on surfaces for a few hours or up to several days. This may vary under different conditions (e.g. type of surface, temperature or humidity of the environment).

Read more: Wimbledon 2020 officially cancelled as chiefs offer site to the NHS

"If you think a surface may be infected, clean it with simple disinfectant to kill the virus and protect yourself and others.

"Clean your hands with an alcohol-based hand rub or wash them with soap and water. Avoid touching your eyes, mouth, or nose."

Boris Johnson announces strict lockdown across the UK

Can coronavirus spread through contaminated surfaces?

It is thought that the virus generally spreads from person to person through respiratory droplets - but the The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) says that it 'may be possible' to contract Covid-19 from touching a contaminated surface.

Their website states: "It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes, but this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads."

Can you catch coronavirus from contaminated food packaging?

Can you catch coronavirus from food packaging?
Can you catch coronavirus from food packaging? Picture: PA

Speaking specifically about food packaging, the CDC added: "In general, because of poor survivability of these coronaviruses on surfaces, there is likely very low risk of spread from food products or packaging that are shipped over a period of days or weeks at ambient, refrigerated, or frozen temperatures."

The NHS website states that "It's very unlikely it can be spread through things like packages or food."

Stephen Baker, from the Department of Medicine at the University of Cambridge, has said that the risk is 'not zero' when it comes to supermarkets and food deliveries, but 'relatively minor'.

He added, according to ITV: "Things that are in packages, I would maintain a degree of common sense with the view that they are unlikely to make anybody sick," and added that alcohol wipes could be used on packaging if there are concerns.


Coronavirus flight refunds: How to claim back your money for cancelled EasyJet, Ryanair and BA flights