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Specialists in protective suits disinfect Beylerbeyi Palace in Istanbul, Turkey. Photo: Erhan Elaldi/Anadolu Agency via Getty Images

The novel coronavirus stays viable in the air for several hours and can last on surfaces from hours to days, depending on the material, according to a study published Tuesday in the New England Journal of Medicine.

What's new: Researchers said the virus that causes COVID-19 remains infectious in the air for up to three hours, on copper for up to four hours, on cardboard for up to 24 hours, and on plastic and stainless steel for up to three days.

Background: The study compared the novel coronavirus, SARS-CoV-2, with the genetically close virus that caused the SARS outbreak in 2002–2003, or SARS-CoV-1.

  • SARS emerged from China, infecting more than 8,000 people in 2002 and 2003.
  • SARS-CoV-1 was "eradicated by intensive contact tracing and case isolation measures and no cases have been detected since 2004," according to a National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases press release accompanying the study.
  • The researchers were from the NIAID, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, UCLA and Princeton University.

What they found: The two viruses "behaved similarly, which unfortunately fails to explain why COVID-19 has become a much larger outbreak," per NIAID.

  • The key difference between the two coronaviruses could be that people are spreading the disease before showing symptoms.
  • Plus, most COVID-19 infections are happening in the community rather than in the health care setting, where SARS was mostly reported. However, NIAID warned that with the virus' stability in air and on surfaces, health care settings are also vulnerable.

What's next: Follow the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advice on how to protect yourself and use these EPA-registered disinfectant products that work against SARS-CoV-2.

Go deeper

1 hour ago - Health

Boris Johnson announces month-long COVID-19 lockdown in U.K.

Prime Minsiter Boris Johnson. Photo: NurPhoto / Getty Images

A new national lockdown will be imposed in the U.K., Prime Minister Boris Johnson announced Saturday, as the number of COVID-19 cases in the country topped 1 million.

Details: Starting Thursday, people in England must stay at home, and bars and restaurants will close, except for takeout and deliveries. All non-essential retail will also be shuttered. Different households will be banned from mixing indoors. International travel, unless for business purposes, will be banned. The new measures will last through at least December 2.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

The massive early vote

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Early voting in the 2020 election across the U.S. on Saturday had already reached 65.5% of 2016's total turnout, according to state data compiled by the U.S. Elections Project.

Why it matters: The coronavirus pandemic and its resultant social-distancing measures prompted a massive uptick in both mail-in ballots and early voting nationwide, setting up an unprecedented and potentially tumultuous count in the hours and days after the polls close on Nov. 3.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: Ipsos poll: COVID trick-or-treat.
  2. World: Greece tightens coronavirus restrictions as Europe cases spike — Austria reimposes coronavirus lockdowns amid surge of infections
  3. Economy: Conference Board predicts economy won’t fully recover until late 2021.
  4. Technology: Fully at-home rapid COVID test to move forward.
  5. States: New York rolls out new testing requirements for visitors.