Coronavirus doesn't linger in air, but causes environmental contamination, study suggests

While the new coronavirus may not linger in the air, it does contaminate hospital environments and surfaces, a recent study shows.

The study, published in the Journal of the American Medical Association, was conducted at a dedicated COVID-19 outbreak center in Singapore from Jan. 24 to Feb. 4. They collected samples from three patient rooms. They also collected samples from the personal protective equipment of physicians leaving those rooms. They gathered air samples over two days inside and outside the rooms.

Researchers gathered environmental samples from one patient's room before routine cleaning and found that 13 of the 15 surfaces from which they collected samples had tested positive for COVID-19. Three of the five sites in the bathrooms that researchers sampled also tested positive.

Researchers collected samples from the other two rooms after routine cleaning had been done and found that none of the surfaces in the room or bathroom tested positive for the virus, suggesting that routine cleaning is sufficient.

Air samples in all three rooms tested negative for the virus, but swabs taken from the air exhaust outlets tested positive. This suggests that "small virus-laden droplets may be displaced by airflows and deposited on equipment," researchers wrote.

Only one swab taken from physicians' personal protective equipment — from the front of the shoe — came back positive after being tested.

This is not surprising, researchers wrote, because the center's personal protective equipment policies did not include use of shoe covers.

More articles on infection control:
Infectious disease specialists improve 5-year outcomes for staph patients
Repeated antibiotic use tied to higher hospitalization risk
How health systems can measure the effects of hospital-acquired infections and unactionable alarms 




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