Rutgers study finds little coronavirus on cancer care facility surfaces

The overall positive test rate for the SARS-CoV-2 virus across surfaces in a number of oncology units was 0.5 percent, according to research published Feb. 18 in Cancer.

Researchers conducted environmental surface swabbing from outpatient and inpatient oncology clinics and infusion suites across New Brunswick, N.J.-based Rutgers Cancer Institute and Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital for 12 days in June. A total of 204 samples were collected and grouped into the following categories: public areas, staff areas or medical equipment. Of those, 130 samples were collected from two outpatient hematology/oncology clinics, 36 were from surfaces in an inpatient lymphoma/leukemia/CAR-T cell unit and 38 were from an inpatient COVID-19 unit.

Significant levels of SARS-CoV-2 were not detected on any of the samples taken from the hematology/oncology settings, while one of 38 samples from a COVID-19 inpatient unit was positive. 

"For patients with blood cancers who may be at higher risk of developing complications from the virus, our findings provide a layer of assurance that these patients are safe when frequenting high impact areas where they receive their cancer care," said Andrew Evens, DO, lead study author and director of the lymphoma program at Rutgers Cancer Institute. "The results of this study help us further understand how COVID-19 is transmitted in hematology/oncology and other medical settings, and confirm that strategies like enhanced cleaning and disinfecting policies are extremely effective."

More articles on oncology:
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