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Tuesday, July 27, 2021

New research: Chances low that SARS-CoV-2 contamination on hospital surfaces is infectious

In April 2020, an interdisciplinary team investigated if there was virus contamination of frequently used surfaces in ICU and staff meeting areas at the medical facility.

By: Express News Service | New Delhi |
Updated: June 28, 2021 8:58:55 am
Health workers attend to Covid patients at an ICU facility in Vashi. (Express Photo: Amit Chakravarty)

A new study in PLOS One has flagged the low likelihood that SARS-CoV-2 contamination on hospital surfaces is infectious. The study was conducted at UC (University of California) Davis Medical Center. In April 2020, an interdisciplinary team investigated if there was virus contamination of frequently used surfaces in ICU and staff meeting areas at the medical facility.

At that time the role of fomites (surfaces) in spreading the disease was highly debated. They collected multiple samples during the first (April 2020) and the second (August 2020) waves of Covid-19 from surfaces and HVAC filters in the hospital.

The researchers analysed the surface swabs for SARS-CoV-2 RNA and infectivity. Despite a significant increase in the number of hospital patients with Covid-19 during the second surge, the team found that only 2% of swabs tested positive in August, compared to 11% of samples collected in April.

The study demonstrated that by genome sequencing, SARS-CoV-2 could be detected even from samples that otherwise tested negative (undetectable) by commonly used PCR tests.

By getting accurate viral genomic sequences, the researchers could track the source and figure out how an infection moves.

The results showed that the SARS-CoV-2 RNA picked up from a surface, although containing near-intact genomic sequence, was not infectious. This finding supports the hypothesis that contaminated surfaces may not be a major way for spreading Covid-19 disease.

Source: University of California, Davis

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