New Study Shows How Long Coronavirus Can Live On Face Masks

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Previous studies have shown how long the coronavirus can last on surfaces such as cardboard and plastic, but a new study shows just how long the virus is able to thrive on surgical masks.

The study claims that the COVID-19 virus is able to live for up to one week on surgical masks, but it is susceptible to standard disinfection methods.

Example of surgical face mask

“Strikingly, a detectable level of infectious virus could still be present on the outer layer of a surgical mask on day 7 (∼0·1% of the original inoculum),” researchers wrote in the study published in The Lancet.

The study looked at how long the virus could thrive on different materials and in different temperature settings. The virus does appear to be sensitive to heat.

Researchers showed stability at 4 degrees Celsius (39.2 degrees Fahrenheit) with an infectious titre (concentration of an antibody) found after 14 days. As the temperature increased to 70 degrees Celsius (158 degrees Fahrenheit), “the time for virus inactivation was reduced to 5 [minutes].”

The researchers did not find any infectious virus on printing and tissue papers after a 3-hour incubation and no infectious virus was spotted on wood and cloth on day 2. However, the virus is slightly more stable on surfaces such as glass and money (no detection after day 4) and stainless steel and plastic (day 7).

The researches also added in the study, that despite the fact the virus can thrive for a various amounts of time on various surfaces, the virus is susceptible to popular disinfecting methods.

The research used various types of households soaps and bleaches.

If you are wearing a face mask, it is very important that you do not touch the outside of the face mask. One could easily transfer the virus from the mask, to the hands, back to the face region. Getting the virus in your eyes, nose or mouth — will make it easily contractible.

So in short, if you are wearing a cloth face mask, the virus could live on that mask for up to two days. On certain certain surgical masks, the virus could live for up to a week, as materials used for surgical masks are often not just cloth.

Example of cotton face mask

The CDC is currently recommending that all American’s wear some sort of protective face mask when out in public areas.

Stay safe. Stay healthy.