People are increasingly paranoid about ways of maintaining safety protocols within the household. Should I sanitize my hands as soon as I touch the doorknobs? Should I not touch the exposed surface in my house like counters? What about the shoes that I enter after returning from outdoors? And many more such questions. If you’re thinking about getting coronavirus from touching things in the household, the answer is: it depends.
Science journal, Nature, reviews literature available to determine the effects of contaminated surfaces in the household and the role it has in spreading the coronavirus. It turns out, contaminated household surfaces have a little role to play in the spread of the virus.
The study cited by Nature scanned 21 household objects to test for SARS-CoVI-2 which included one infected person. Ricarda Schmithausen and her colleague from the University of Bonn in Germany approached the study by obtaining throat swab samples from the participating adults and children. Air, wastewater, and surface swabs were also obtained for testing.
We want to prompt the others to check their facts and make sure to follow reliable sources like WHO. Should you worry about getting coronavirus from touching things in the household?
The team found viral RNA in only 3% of the samples obtained from the most frequently touched objects such as doorknobs, and 15% from samples taken from the bathroom drains and toilet. Researchers could not grow the infective virus from the samples. However, they mention: “As we cannot rule out transmission through surfaces, hygienic behavioral measures are important in the households of SARS-CoV-2 infected individuals to avoid potential transmission through surfaces.”
The authors say the results of the study must be interpreted carefully. The findings suggest that the most effective way the novel coronavirus wades inside the human body is through directly inhaling the exhaled infectious droplets from one person to another. Wastewater is a possible route of infection, it concludes.
What is the primary source of contamination?
The primate pathway for the novel coronavirus to spread is from a person to person, which is by close contact with the virus-positive individual. It means activities involving close contact with a potential COVID-19 person (who may be asymptomatic as well) can result in a successful spread.
Subhojit Sen, a scientist at Centre for Excellence in Basic Sciences in Mumbai tells The Quint: “Direct contact by hugging, touching, shaking hands and then when a positive person speaks or even spits coughs, sneezes or even exhales… droplets are continuously being released. These are the primary sources of transmission.”
Person to person spread via close contact is the primary and most effective source of COVID-19 spread (Photo by Priscilla Du Preez on Unsplash)
This is all about the primary spread. The secondary spread puts contaminated surfaces at blame. According to the CDC, it may be possible for someone to acquire the virus after getting in contact with a previously contaminated surface. The usual pathway in this case, as CDC explains is:
Viruses from the infected person lands and settles on surfaces after being released by cough and sneeze.
Healthy individuals touch the contaminated surface.
The same person then touches own mouth, nose, and eyes, making way for the virus inside the system.
It must be noted, however, that the virus does not enter through the skin but only when contaminated skin touches the inlets to the body like mouth, eyes, nose. So if you’re still thinking of getting coronavirus from touching things, it is not just that you touch and bam! you’re a COVID-19 patient.
The best way to maintain indoor hygine and prevent the spread?
Keep your hands sanitized. Avoid touching your face.Stay home & stay safe. Image created by Akanksha Srivastav. Should you worry about getting coronavirus from touching things in the household?
As already mentioned above, precautions to prevent the primary spread of the virus is crucial. These are some expert tips to help you avoid getting coronavirus from touching things in the household:
Keep at least a 6-feet distance whenever possible.
Wear layered facemask when engaging with people.
Frequently wash hands with soap and water. Not possible? Use hand sanitizer with 60% alcohol at least
Routinely sanitize common surface areas like doorknobs, tabletops, switchboards (with caution, water can electrocute), faucets, sinks, countertops, keyboards, and so on.
For soft surfaces like rugs, carpets, and other fabric, follow the manufacturer’s care guidelines.
Clean your phone’s cover routinely. Clean the phone’s surface using alcohol-based wipes, dry thoroughly.
It is advised to use disposable gloves and facemask while routine-cleaning and then discharging carefully.
If a COVID-19 patient is in the house, try to separate facilities like bedding, lodging, and food as much possible.
Keep in mind not to use too harsh chemical/acid to clean, thinking it might be more effective. You don’t want to irritate/burn your skin.
Clean hands whenever you sneeze, blow your nose, or cough. Use a tissue and dispose of it.
Research is still on to track the trajectory of the novel coronavirus and the pattern in which it spreads. Keeping in mind that social distancing is the best way to prevent the spread, one must make efforts to do so. Alongside there are the hygiene protocols to follow.