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Coronavirus spreading through hospital surfaces

Date: 11 June 2020 Tags: Miscellaneous


A new study has aimed to simulate how SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes Covid-19, may spread across surfaces in a hospital.



For safety, the researchers did not use the SARS-CoV-2 virus but artificially replicated a section of DNA from a plant-infecting virus, which cannot infect humans.



  • The virus DNA left on a hospital bed rail was found in nearly half of all sites sampled across a ward within 10 hours and persisted for at least five days.

  • Researchers placed the water containing the DNA on the hand rail in an isolation room, a room for higher-risk or infected patients, and then sampled 44 sites across a hospital ward over the following five days.

  • They found that after 10 hours, the surrogate genetic material had spread to 41% of sites sampled across the hospital ward, from bed rails to door handles to arm rests in a waiting room to children’s toys and books in a play area.

  • The highest proportion of sites that tested positive for the surrogate came from the immediate bed-space area – including a nearby room with several other beds – and clinical areas such as treatment rooms.

  • SARS-CoV-2 will likely be spread within bodily fluid such as cough droplets, whereas the study used virus DNA in water. More sticky fluid such as mucus would likely spread more easily.

  • While it shows how quickly a virus can spread if left on a surface, it cannot determine how likely it is that a person would be infected.

  • The study shows the important role that surfaces play in the transmission of a virus and how critical it is to adhere to good hand hygiene and cleaning.

  • The sample was inoculated once to a single site, and was spread through the touching of surfaces by staff, patients and visitors. A person with SARS-CoV-2, though, will shed the virus on more than one site, through coughing, sneezing and touching surfaces.

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