Novel coronavirus contaminates patient environment, new evidence shows

A new study shows that the novel coronavirus contaminates the environment where COVID-19 patients receive care.

The study, conducted by researchers from Omaha-based University of Nebraska Medical Center/Nebraska Medicine/National Strategic Research Institute, has not been peer-reviewed.

Researchers gathered air and surface samples from 11 rooms where confirmed COVID-19 patients were isolated.

They found that many commonly used items, such as toilets, and air samples had evidence of the virus, indicating that the new coronavirus is spread widely in the patient care environment.

These findings indicate that the disease might be spread through both direct and indirect contact, including contaminated objects and airborne transmission.

But the findings do not confirm that the virus spreads in an airborne fashion. Additional evidence is needed to determine the risk of virus transmission via the airborne route, the researchers said.

"Our team was already taking airborne precautions with the initial patients we cared for," said James Lawler, MD, director of the Global Center for Health Security at University of Nebraska Medical Center. "This report reinforces our suspicions. It's why we have maintained COVID patients in rooms equipped with negative air flow and will continue to make efforts to do so — even with an increase in the number of patients."

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