After over a year of battling against the coronavirus, the CDC on Monday revised its surface contact guidelines, shedding light on new researches that have gone to prove that there is no significant risk of catching the virus from infected surfaces.
In a coronavirus guidance update on Monday, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said there is not a significant risk of catching the coronavirus from an infected surface or object. “It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low,” the revised guidance states.
The agency added that, on the other hand, transmission spurs out of direct contact with a sick person or droplet or airborne transmission. “The principal mode by which people are infected with SARS-CoV-2 (the virus that causes COVID-19) is through exposure to respiratory droplets carrying the infectious virus,” the agency states.
The agency adds that the risk of fomite-mediated transmission is dependent on:
- The infection prevalence rate in the community
- The amount of virus-infected people expel (which can be substantially reduced by wearing masks)
- The deposition of expelled virus particles onto surfaces (fomites), which is affected by airflow and ventilation
- The interaction with environmental factors (e.g., heat and evaporation) causing damage to virus particles while airborne and on fomites
- The time between when a surface becomes contaminated and when a person touches the surface
- The efficiency of transference of virus particles from fomite surfaces to hands and from hands to mucous membranes on the face (nose, mouth, eyes)
- The dose of virus needed to cause infection through the mucous membrane route
Case reports have shown that the virus can be transmitted when a person touches something that an infected individual has recently coughed or sneezed on and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.
The agency also now says that simple cleaning agents appear to be effective against the virus and that disinfectants aren’t necessary for most situations. “There is little scientific support for routine use of disinfectants in community settings, whether indoor or outdoor,” to prevent spread through surfaces, the CDC said.“In most situations, cleaning surfaces using soap or detergent, and not disinfecting, is enough to reduce risk.”