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Coronavirus research updates: Surfaces could pose only a modest risk for household spread

Surfaces could pose only a modest risk for household spread

Contaminated surfaces might have only a minor role in transmitting COVID-19 within households.

Ricarda Schmithausen at the University of Bonn in Germany and her colleagues looked for traces of the virus SARS-CoV-2 in 21 households that each included at least one infected person (M. Döhla et al. Preprint at medRxiv; 2020). The team found viral RNA in just 3% of samples from the most frequently touched objects, such as door knobs, and in 15% of samples taken from bathroom drains and toilets. The team could not grow infectious virus from any of the samples.

All 15 samples from air monitors designed to pick up fine respiratory aerosol particles tested negative for viral RNA, although the authors say that the method they used means this result should be interpreted cautiously.

The findings suggest that direct transmission of the coronavirus, for example through exhaled or coughed droplets, is probably the main route of infection. However, transmission in wastewater is a possible route of infection, the authors add.

The results have not yet been peer reiviewed.

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