Study: coronavirus can stay on face masks for up to a week
The coronavirus that causes Covid-19 can adhere to the outer layer of a face mask for a week, according to a study by researchers from the University of Hong Kong (HKU).
The team also found that common household disinfectants, including bleach, were effective in "killing" the virus.
The report, published in medical journal The Lancet, adds to a growing body of research about the stability of Sars-CoV-2 and what can be done to prevent its transmission, South China Morning Post reported.
"Sars-CoV-2 can be highly stable in a favourable environment, but it is also susceptible to standard disinfection methods," said the researchers.
The researchers tested how long the virus could remain infectious at room temperature on various surfaces.
On printing and tissue paper it lasted less than three hours, while on treated wood and cloth it disappeared by the second day.
On glass and banknotes the virus was still evident on the second day, but had gone by the fourth, while on stainless steel and plastic it was present for between four and seven days.
The researchers said that "strikingly" there was still a detectable level of infection on the outer layer of a surgical face mask after seven days.
On all surfaces, the concentration of the virus reduced quite rapidly over time, the study said.
The researchers also said that the results did "not necessarily reflect the potential to pick up the virus from casual contact", as the presence of the virus in the study was detected by laboratory tools, not fingers and hands as would be the case in everyday life.