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A study of the University College London has been proven that the DNA of the virus spreads easily in a hospital room. In just a ten hours , are found remains in almost the half of all sites surveyed and the polluting agent lasted at least five days.

Published as a letter in the Journal of Hospital Infection, the study had as objective to simulate safely how to the SARS-CoV-2 , the virus that causes Covid-19 , can be spread by the surfaces of a hospital. Therefore, instead of using the new coronavirus , researchers replicated artificially a section of DNA of a virus that infects plants, which do not affect humans, and he was added to one milliliter of water in a concentration similar to the copies of SARS-CoV-2 found in respiratory samples of patients of coronavirus.

The experiment

The researchers sprayed this solution on the handrail of a hospital bed in an isolation room -that is to say, a room for patients infected, or higher risk-and then took samples of 44 sites that room during the following five days. They discovered that after 10 hours, the genetic material substitute, had been extended to 41% of the sites sampled in the room , from the bed rails to door handles and the armrest in a waiting room , until the toys and books for children in a play area. This increased to 59% of the sites after three days , falling again to 41% in the fifth day.

“The study shows the important role played by the surfaces in the transmission of a virus and how critical it is to adhere to good hand hygiene and cleaning,” says Lena Ciric , an expert in Civil Engineering, Environmental and Geomatics from UCL and lead author of the study. “Our substitute was inoculated once at a single site, and the staff, patients and visitors as they spread when you touch surfaces. However, a person with SARS-CoV-2 will propagate the virus for more than a place , through coughing, sneezing and by touching surfaces,” he warns.

The largest proportion of sites that tested positive came from the area of the space from the bed to the side, in addition to a section with several other beds, and clinical areas such as treatment rooms. On the third day, 86% of the sites sampled in the clinical areas were positive, while that on the fourth day, 60% of the sites sampled in the area of the bed immediately gave positive.

Cleaning of hands, the first weapon of battle

Your friend, Elaine Cloutman-Green , director of the Health area of GOSH, says: “people can become infected with Covid-19 through respiratory droplets produced when coughing or sneezing. Also, if these droplets land on a surface, a person can become infected after coming into contact with the surface, and then touching the eyes, nose, or mouth . Like SARS-CoV-2, the substitute that we use for the study might be removed with a washcloth hand sanitizer or washing hands with water and soap. The cleaning and the washing of hands represent our first line of defence against the virus , and this study is a significant reminder that the health workers and all visitors to a clinical environment can help to stop its spread by strict hand hygiene, cleaning surfaces and the appropriate use of personal protective equipment”.

A caveat of the study is that, while it shows the speed with which a virus can spread if it is left on the surface, you cannot determine the probability that a person will become infected. However, if we take into account that there are other fluids, such as mucus , which also carry the virus and are more resistant, the spreading of the areas may take even more time tested with the aqueous solution of this research.