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High-Risk Hospital Surfaces Exacerbate Coronavirus Spread

By HospiMedica International staff writers
Posted on 23 Sep 2020
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Image: Thorough disinfection is imperative in coronavirus wards (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Image: Thorough disinfection is imperative in coronavirus wards (Photo courtesy of Getty Images)
Hospital bedrails, door handles, and electrocardiogram (ECG) monitors are hotspots for SARS-CoV-2 contamination, claims a new study.

Researchers at the Sichuan Center of Disease Control (CDC; Chengdu, China), Fudan University (Shanghai, China), and other institutions collected samples from 31 surfaces in different hospital wards before daily cleaning and disinfection routines were implemented. For each positive SARS-CoV-2 case, seven surfaces were designated, including bedrails, the fingertip of ECG monitors, and bathroom door handles. The method used for SARS-CoV-2 identification was loop-mediated isothermal amplification (LAMP), which uses the N gene for detection.

In all, the researchers obtained 49 positive results from 14 positive cases, with two to six contamination sites identified per case. More than 70% of surfaces were contaminated by the virus from confirmed COVID-19 cases, which indicates a strong chance of cross-infection by surfaces in isolation wards. Over 70% of positive cases showed contamination of the ECG fingertip, which showed a higher viral RNA as well; the second highest risk was with the bedrail, with 10 positive samples. The study was published in the September 2020 issue of Science of The Total Environment.

“Virus monitoring should be added as a routine procedure in ward management. The door handles and fingertips of ECG monitors should be sampled daily for contamination analysis,” concluded senior author Guodong Sui, PhD, of Fudan University, and colleagues. “If the sample from a door handle obtains a positive result, a more precise and thorough cleaning should be performed. As surface contamination may cause nosocomial viral infection, general cleaning is mandatory in wards.”

SARS-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus; as such, it is very susceptible to most cleaning agents, which destroys the envelope and deactivates the virus. When left untreated, SARS-CoV-2 remains viable for up to 72 hours on plastic and steel surfaces, and for up to eight hours on copper and cardboard surfaces.

Related Links:
Sichuan Center of Disease Control
Fudan University

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