Coronavirus may linger in air in patient bathrooms, medical staff areas, study finds

The new coronavirus can potentially be spread via fine airborne particles and may linger in patients toilet areas, medical staff areas and areas prone to crowding, a new study shows.

The study, published in Nature, examined the presence of the new coronavirus' genetic material in fine airborne particles, or aerosols, in different areas of two Wuhan hospitals during the COVID-19 outbreak in February and March.

Researchers found the concentration of the virus' genetic material in aerosols detected in isolation wards and ventilated patient rooms was very low. But it was high in the patients' toilet areas, as well as two public areas prone to crowding.

They also found that some medical staff areas initially had high concentrations of the virus' genetic material in aerosols, but these levels decreased until the virus was undetectable after rigorous sanitization procedures were implemented.

The study did not establish how infectious the virus detected in these hospital areas were, researchers said.

But, they said, the novel coronavirus "may have the potential to be transmitted via aerosols," and room ventilation, open space, sanitization of protective gear and proper use and disinfection of toilet areas can limit the concentration of the virus' genetic material in aerosols.

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