In general, the infectivity of corona viruses on inanimate surfaces decreases depending on material and environmental conditions. Initial investigations have shown that SARS-CoV-2 remains infectious for up to 6 hours on certain surfaces – but becomes inactive on paper and other porous materials after a much shorter time. In general, a longer infectivity of the virus can be assumed at low temperatures. It can also be assumed that the virus remains stable for a longer time in biological secretions (in case of contamination).
However, so far there is no evidence of transmission through surfaces in public areas.
The consistent observance of hand hygiene (washing hands, not touching the face) is still the most effective measure against the transmission of pathogens on or through surfaces.
Routine surface disinfection in public areas, including frequent contact surfaces, is not recommended even in the current COVID pandemic.
Here, appropriate cleaning (= mechanical removal of soiling with common household cleaning agents and water) is the method of choice.
Whether disinfection of certain surfaces outside health care facilities is necessary at all should be decided on a case-by-case basis based on the actual contamination of the surface. In this case, the focus should be on contamination through respiratory secretions and, if applicable, surfaces that were frequently touched with the hands of a person who was tested positive for SARS-CoV-2.
If disinfection is considered necessary in individual cases, it should generally be carried out as wipe disinfection. Spray disinfection, i.e. wetting of the surface without mechanical action, is less effective and is also questionable for occupational safety reasons, as disinfectants could be inhaled.
Source: Robert Koch Institute (October 2020)