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《TAIPEI TIMES》Science ministry uses copper against COVID-19

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The Ministry of Science and Technology uses small copper sheets to cover elevator buttons and other frequently touched facilities in a bid to reduce germ and bacterial residue. Photo: Lin Chia-nan, Taipei Times


By Lin Chia-nan / Staff reporter

The Ministry of Science and Technology has placed copper sheets on the elevator buttons and doorknobs at its building to boost disease prevention after a study showed that the new coronavirus has a shorter life span on copper surfaces.

A study published in the New England Journal of Medicine last week compared the surface stability of the SARS-CoV-2 — the virus that causes COVID-19 — and SARS-CoV-1 in aerosols, plastic, stainless steel, copper and cardboard surfaces.

SARS-CoV-2 remains viable for up to three hours in aerosols, up to four hours on copper, up to 24 hours on cardboard, and up to two to three days on plastic and stainless steel, it said.

The study was co-authored by researchers from the University of California, Los Angeles, the US National Institutes of Health’s National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Princeton University.

The study is available at

Citing the article, Deputy Minister of Science and Technology Shieh Dar-bin (謝達斌) on Friday last week instructed the secretariat to cover most frequently touched surfaces at the ministry building with copper sheets, a ministry official said.

As of yesterday, the elevator buttons and most doorknobs at the building had been covered by small copper sheets, an innovative measure rarely seen at other agencies, the official said.

The ministry on Tuesday also installed an infrared thermometer at its entrance to take people’s temperature when they enter the building, the official said.

The building’s air-conditioning systems also operate discretely, meaning the air on different floors do not mix, the official added.

Nearly 1,300 people visit the ministry’s offices near the Technology Building MRT Station in Taipei, including employees and guests, the official said.

The ministry on Tuesday last week banned its personnel, including those at the National Applied Research Laboratories, from traveling abroad, unless they have obtained special permission.



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