Study on the resistance of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus (2005)

The virus responsible for the 2002/03 coronavirus outbreak (SARS-CoV) was reported to be detected in faeces, urine and water.

The inactivation of SARS-CoV in wastewater with chlorine-based disinfectants, sodium hypochlorite and chlorine dioxide was also studied.

The researchers demonstrated that the virus could persist for 2 days in hospital wastewater, domestic sewage and dechlorinated tap water. It persisted for 3 days in faeces, 14 days in phosphate-buffered saline solution and 17 days in urine at 20 °C.

However, at 4 °C, the SARS-CoV could persist for longer periods (for 14 days in wastewater and at least 17 days in faeces or urine).

SARS-CoV was found to be more susceptible to disinfectants than Escherichia coli and f2 phage. Free chlorine was found to inactivate SARS-CoV better than chlorine dioxide. Disinfectant residuals of over 0.5 mg/L for chlorine or 2.19 mg/L for chlorine dioxide in wastewater were reported to achieve complete inactivation of SARS-CoV while they did not inactivate completely E. coli and f2 phage.

The paper states:

“SARS-CoV does not appear to persist in vitro environments, as was believed previously. However, SARS-CoV may persist longer at relative low temperatures, and will do so in PBS and urine. This may relate to the fact that such fluids contain salts, which maintain osmotic pressure of virus needs for persistence”.


Wang X-W, Li J-S, Jin M, Zhen B, Kong Q-X, Song N, Xiao W-J, Yin J, Wei W, Wang G-J, Si B-y, Guo B-Z, Liu C, Ou G-R, Wang M-N, Fang T-Y, Chao F-H and Li J-W (2005) Study on the resistance of severe acute respiratory syndrome-associated coronavirus. Journal of Virological Methods, 126(1), 171-177.


Published by Stuart Khan

Professor of Civil & Environmental Engineering, University of New South Wales

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