Transmission risk from changing COVID-19 patients' bed linens is low, study suggests 

While droplet or airborne COVID-19 transmission while changing linens is possible, the risk is low for clinicians, a study published Sept. 2 in Nature suggested.

Researchers analyzed hospitals admitting 13 symptomatic COVID-19 patients from Sept. 16, 2020, to Nov. 19, 2020. The presence of the virus on linens before and after washing or disinfection was evaluated on the first day that participants were admitted to the hospital or facility and on the third day after admission. 

In total, researchers collected and tested 700 samples for the presence of the virus: 362 from linens, 26 from rinse water, 104 from air and 208 from personal protective equipment. The virus was detected on all linen types, but not in rinse water after washing with tap water, disinfecting with sodium hypochlorite or disinfecting with 80°C water. The virus was detected in 1 in 5 samples after washing with laundry detergent and in 1 in 6 samples after washing with fabric softener.

A noted limitation of the study was only asymptomatic patients and symptomatic patients with mild upper respiratory tract symptoms were analyzed, and those with severe disease were not included.

 

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