Why hospitals are hotbeds of coronavirus transmission
Once in contact with the virus on objects and surfaces, there is high risk of infection
- While the availability and quality of personal protective equipment (PPE) and the duration of exposure with severe and critical patients have been a factor in determining if healthcare workers were safe or not, a study posted on March 16 in a preprint repository medRxiv reveals how certain areas in the hospitals and certain objects had more viruses.
- The study was carried out as 1,688 healthcare workers had become infected with novel coronavirus in China, including 1,080 healthcare workers in Wuhan, the epicentre of the epidemic in China.
- Widespread hospital contamination could have resulted in occupational exposure for healthcare workers in the hospital on a daily basis.
Routes of transmission
- The primary routes of transmission of the virus are through large respiratory droplets and close contact, and contact with surfaces and objects contaminated with the virus. Once in contact with the virus on objects and surfaces, there is high risk of infection.
- Among the most contaminated objects in the hospital were the self-service printers (20.0%), desktop/keyboard (16.8%), doorknob (16.0%), telephones (12.5%) and medical equipment (12.5%).
Temperature and pH
- The University of Hong Kong researchers also found that at room temperature, the virus could survive in a broad range of pH conditions — pH 3-10.
- The ability of different disinfectants to kill the virus, compared with hand soap, no infectious virus could be found five minutes after the virus culture was added to various disinfectants. The study thus shows that surfaces can be made free of the virus using regular disinfectants.
- The SARS-CoV-2 can be highly stable in a favourable environment but is also susceptible to standard disinfection methods. The method used to recover virus from different surface that were tested does not necessarily reflect the potential to pick the virus from casual contact.