When coronoviruses began spreading in the United States last spring, many experts warned of the danger posed by surfaces. Researchers reported that the virus could survive for days on plastic or stainless steel, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention advised that if someone touches one of these contaminated surfaces and then touches their eyes, nose, or mouth – So they can get infected.
Americans responded in kind, wiping groceries, extinguishing the mail, and cleaning up the drugstore shelves of Clorox wipes. Facebook closed two of its offices for “deep cleaning”. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority of New York began to disinfect metro cars every night.
But the era of “hygiene theater” may come to an informal end this week, when the CDC updated its surface cleaning guidelines and noted that the risk of contracting the virus from touching the contaminated surface was 1 in 10,000. Was less.
The director of the CDC, Drs. “People can be affected by the virus that causes Kovid-19 through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects,” Rochelle Wallensky gave the information at the White House on Monday. “However, evidence has shown that the risk from this route of transmission of infection is actually low.”
Scientists say that penetration has been going on for a long time.
“Finally,” said Linsey Marr, an expert on airborne viruses at Virginia Tech. “We have known this for a long time and still people are paying so much attention to surface cleaning.” She Said, “There is really no evidence that anyone has gained Kovid-19 by touching the contaminated surface.”
During the early days of the epidemic, many experts believed that the virus spread mainly through large respiratory droplets. These droplets are too heavy to travel long distances through the air but can fall on objects and surfaces.
In this context, it made sense to focus on clearing every surface. “Surface cleaning is more familiar,” Dr. Mara said. “We know how to do it.” You can see people doing this, you can see the clean surface. And so I think it makes people feel safe. “
But over the past year, it has become increasingly clear that the virus spreads primarily through the air – both in large and small droplets, which can last a long time – and that the door handles and subway seats make people safer. She does very little to keep.
Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, said, “The scientific basis of all this concerns about the surface is very thin – no less than none”. “It is a virus that you get by breathing. This is not a virus that you get by touch. “
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The CDC has previously acknowledged that the surface is not the primary way that the virus spreads. But the agency’s statements went ahead this week.
Joseph Ellen, a building safety expert, said, “The most important part of this update is that they are clearly communicating to the public about the right, low-risk exposure from the surfaces, which is not a message that was clearly the case last year. Has been reported for. ” At Harvard TH Chan School of Public Health.
It is theoretically possible to capture viruses from surfaces, he notes. But this requires many things to go wrong: too many fresh, infectious viral particles to accumulate on a surface, and then relatively large amounts of them to quickly move into someone’s hands and then to their face. . “Presence on a surface is not an equal risk,” Dr. Alan said.
In most cases, cleaning with simple soap and water – in addition to washing hands and wearing a mask – is enough to keep the barriers of surface transmission low, the CDC’s cleaning guidelines say. In most everyday landscapes and environments, people are not required to use chemical disinfectants, agency notes.
“It’s very useful, I think, tell us what we don’t need to do,” said Donald Milton, an aerosol scientist at the University of Maryland. “Too much spraying and misting of chemicals is not helpful.”
Nevertheless, the guidelines suggest that if a person who has a Kovid-19 occupies a particular place within the last day, the area should be both clean and disinfected.
Dr. “Dissection is recommended only in an indoor setting – school and home – where suspected or confirmed within the last 24 hours of Kovid-19,” Wallensky said during a White House briefing. “Furthermore, in most cases, fogging, fumigation and wide area or electrostatic spraying are not recommended as a primary method of disinfection and there are many safety risks to consider.”
And the new cleaning guidelines do not apply to health care facilities, which may require more intensive cleaning and disinfection.
Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University, said she was happy to see the new guidance, which “reflects our evolving data on transmission during the epidemic.”
But she said it’s important to continue doing some regular cleaning – and maintaining good hand-washing practices – to reduce the risk of contracting not only coronaviruses but any other pathogens that may be dull on a particular surface Huh.
Dr. Allen said the school and business officials he has spoken to this week have relieved him on the updated guidelines, which will allow him to pull back on some of his more in-depth cleaning arrangements. “It frees up a lot of organizations to spend that money better,” he said.
Schools, businesses and other institutions that want to protect people should shift their focus from surfaces to air quality, he said, and invest in better ventilation and filtration.
“This should be the end of deep cleansing,” Dr. Allen said, noting that there is a real cost to mis-focus on surfaces. “It has closed the playgrounds, it has led to the closure of the basketball court, it has limited the books in the library. It has missed the entire school days for cleaning. This caused not being able to share a pencil. It is therefore all hygienic theater, and is a direct result of not properly classifying surface transmission as low risk. “
Rauni Karin Rabin Contributed to reporting