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Current Affairs

Why hospitals are hotbed for Coronavirus?

Date: 14 April 2020 Tags: Reports & Indices

Issue

Across the world, hospitals have become hotspots for novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) infection. And hundreds of healthcare workers have been infected in many countries, and some have died too.

 

Background

While the availability and quality of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the duration of exposure with severe and critical patients have been a factor in determining if healthcare workers were safe or not, a study reveals how certain areas in the hospitals and certain objects had more viruses.

 

Details

  • The study was carried out as 1,688 healthcare workers had become infected with novel coronavirus in China, including 1,080 healthcare workers in Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic in China.

  • Widespread hospital contamination could have resulted in occupational exposure for healthcare workers in the hospital on a daily basis.

  • The primary routes of transmission of the virus are through large respiratory droplets and close contact, and contact with surfaces and objects contaminated with the virus. Once in contact with the virus on objects and surfaces, there is high risk of infection.

  • The study found at 31.9%, the intensive care unit specialised for taking care of COVID-19 patients was the most contaminated in the hospital followed by obstetric isolation ward for COVID-19 pregnant women (28.1%), and isolation ward for COVID-19 patients (19.6%).

  • They found nearly 14% of all commonly used hospital objects and medical equipment had the virus on them. Among the most contaminated objects in the hospital were the self-service printers (20.0%), desktop/keyboard (16.8%), doorknob (16.0%), telephones (12.5%) and medical equipment (12.5%). 

  • The researchers found that the virus could persist longer on smooth surfaces — infectious virus could be found on glass and banknotes even on day three, while they could find viable, infectious virus on stainless steel and plastic up to day six.

  • The team had found that the virus survived the least time — four hours — on copper, while they could find virus for relatively longer time on plastic (three days) and stainless steel (two days). The virus survived for a day on cardboard.

  • The most interesting but disturbing finding is the presence of infectious virus on the outer layer of the surgical mask even on day seven. But the amount of virus found on mask on day seven was only 0.1% of the original number.

  • They also studied the ability of different disinfectants to kill the virus. Compared with hand soap, no infectious virus could be found five minutes after the virus culture was added to various disinfectants. The study thus shows that surfaces can be made free of the virus using regular disinfectants.