How do people catch COVID-19?

SARS-CoV-2 is the virus responsible for the 2019 COVID-19 pandemic, and belongs to the family of coronaviruses.

The novel coronavirus can be spread by:

  • droplets generated from an infected person

  • touching your eyes, mouth or nose after touching a surface that has the virus

The likelihood of catching COVID-19 is higher from respiratory droplets (from coughing, sneezing, spitting) from an infected person than by contact with a surface that has the virus. When someone coughs or sneezes, they expel droplets that may be suspended in the air for a few minutes but are likely to fall down onto the surfaces below them.

Studies have shown that in general, coronaviruses can remain on surfaces, including metal, glass or plastic, for approximately 3 days. Researchers specifically studying SARS-CoV-2 found that the virus can be detected on plastic for up to 72 hours, stainless steel for up to 48 hours, cardboard for up to 24 hours, and copper surfaces for up to 4 hours.

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