You can stop swiping and wiping to prevent COVID-19. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said on Monday that the risk of transmission through touching surfaces is “low.”
According to Business Insider, the CDC said that the relative risk of getting the coronavirus from “fomite,” or surfaces, is low compared to direct contact. The agency said in its report that quantitative microbial risk assessment (QMRA) studies found that there is a less than a one in 10,000 chance you can contract the virus by touching a contaminated surface.
This could mean the end to what some call the “hygiene theater”, a land war waged with sudsy hand-to-hand combat against grimy surfaces to fight the virus. Science has suggested that the real battle with the virus is in the air, so we should concentrate on reducing aerial transmission of COVID-19 instead of pointless power-scrubbing.
The latest research could mean that hotels, business, and public transport should shift their focus, time, money, and energy into more meaningful ways to prevent viral spread. In most settings, normal cleaning using soap or detergent is enough to reduce the risk of transmission, said the CDC.
According to Business Insider, the CDC said last year that “surface transmission isn’t thought to be the main way the virus spreads,” but it did recommend that frequently touched surfaces be disinfected. The agency’s new position recommends that deep cleaning can be dialed back.
Last year, the New York Metropolitan Transit Authority spend a whopping $484 million on sanitation, according to Nature. By the end of 2020, global sales of surface disinfectant soared to over $4.5 billion, a 30% jump over the previous year.
While hand washing is still recommended, infectious disease experts like Linsey Marr, of Virginia Tech, have implored the public to shift the focus away from super-cleaning surfaces. “It’s becoming clear that transmission by inhalation of aerosols — the microscopic droplets — is an important if not dominant mode of transition,” she wrote in The Washington Post.
“If we took half the effort that’s being given to disinfection, and we put it on ventilation, that will be huge,” said Jose-Luis Jimenez, associate professor of chemistry at the University of Colorado at Boulder.
One public health expert hailed the new CDC directives, according to Business Insider.
“Time to rethink the deep cleaning,” said Dr. David Fisman, an epidemiologist at the University of Toronto’s Dalla Lana School of Public Health.” It’s a bad use of time, energy and resources,”
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