Results of a new study from the National Centre for Infectious Diseases and the DSO National Laboratories in Singapore suggest that patients with the coronavirus, also known as COVID-19, can extensively contaminate the bedrooms they stay in and the bathrooms they use, GMA Newsreports.
However, the research also found that the virus could be killed with the help of twice-a-day cleaning of surfaces and daily cleaning of floors using disinfectants, especially surfaces like wash basins and toilet bowls.
This study was published in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA) on Wednesday, March 4, 2020, after confirmed cases in China where SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) spread widely through hospitals and infected other patients and healthcare workers.
In the study, researchers collected samples from three isolation rooms where three patients stayed between late January and early February. The samples were gathered for five days over a two-week period.
One room was sampled before routine cleaning while the two others were sampled after being disinfected.
According toGMA News, the patient who stayed in the room that was sampled before routine cleaning showed only mild symptoms (i.e., coughing). The patients who stayed in the other rooms exhibited moderate symptoms: both were coughing and had a fever, one had shortness of breath, and the other was coughing up mucus.
The researchers found that the patient who used the room that was sampled before cleaning contaminated 13 of the 15 room sites that were tested, including the light switches, a glass window, the floor, a chair, the bed rail.
Three out of five toilet sites were also found to have been contaminated, including surfaces like the sink, the toilet bowl, and the door handle. This finding has been considered evidence that COVID-19 could spread through stool, reportsGMA News. (Click here to learn about other ways that COVID-19 can spread.)
While the air samples gathered by the researchers tested negative, the swabs they took from air exhaust outlets tested positive, suggesting viral droplets could be carried by air and deposited on vents. Meanwhile, the two rooms tested after disinfection had no positive results.
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The findings of this study suggest that while individuals with symptoms of COVID-19 contaminate the rooms they use, the risk of infection can be minimized to follow current decontamination measures, writesGMA News.
The researchers explained, “Significant environmental contamination by patients with SARS-CoV-2 through respiratory droplets and fecal shedding suggests the environment as a potential medium of transmission and supports the need for strict adherence to environmental and hand hygiene.”