NPR: Disinfecting Surfaces Might Not Be Worth It to Prevent Coronavirus

LOUISVILLE, KY - NOVEMBER 03: An election official sanitizes a surface used by voters in the polling place at Eastern High School November 3, 2020 in Louisville, Kentucky. After a record-breaking early voting turnout, Americans head to the polls on the last day to cast their vote for incumbent U.S. …
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A recent NPR report said that disinfecting surfaces using sprays and wipes might not be necessary to prevent the coronavirus.

Scientists say that if a person infected with the coronavirus sneezes, talks loudly, or coughs, droplets containing particles of the virus are airborne and can land on surfaces.

But Emanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, told NPR the risk of getting infected from touching a surface with the virus is low.

“In hospitals, surfaces have been tested near COVID-19 patients, and no infectious virus can be identified,” Goldman says.

Instead, what is left over is viral RNA, otherwise known as the corpse of the coronavirus.

Back in January and February, scientists thought the coronavirus could be primarily transmitted through surface contamination.

A study from the New England Journal of Medicine at the time suggested the virus could live on surfaces for days.

Because of the results of that study, the public began to wipe down their groceries, disinfect common areas, and even wear gloves.

But now scientists are saying that people who disinfect to prevent against the coronavirus might be overdoing it.

Dr. Kevin Fennelly, a respiratory infection specialist with the National Institutes of Health (NIH), said there is no scientific data to back up the claims.

“When you see people doing spray disinfection of streets and sidewalks and walls and subways, I just don’t know of any data that supports the fact that we’re getting infected from viruses that are jumping up from the sidewalk,” he said.

Fennelly says that the virus is more likely to spread via airborne transmission in indoor public places, adding that ultraviolet germicidal irradiation, or using ultraviolet energy to kill viruses, is probably the best way to kill the virus being transmitted through the air.

Still, public health experts say that the best way to protect yourself against the coronavirus is to wash your hands with soap and water, avoid crowds, and wear a mask when leaving the house.

Health experts also recommend limiting the amount of time spent with people outside the household, and if that is not possible, to wear a mask in those instances.


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