The top US public health agency updated its surface cleaning guidelines this week, officially changing its position on how easily the coronavirus can spread from a contaminated surface to a person.
During the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, many experts believed there was a significant risk of infection from virus droplets remaining on surfaces. Frequent hand-washing and sterilization of surfaces was recommended.
However, the focus has since then moved to transmission through droplets travelling through the air, leading to the sweeping recommendations for mask-wearing in public around the world.
Now the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says on its site that the risk of contracting the virus from touching a surface is less than 1 in 10,000. However, the CDC still recommends that “high-touch surfaces” such as doorknobs, light switches, or handles be cleaned at least once a day.
“People can be affected with the virus that causes COVID-19 through contact with contaminated surfaces and objects,” Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the agency’s director said at a White House briefing on Monday.
“However, evidence has demonstrated that the risk by this route of infection of transmission is actually low,” Walensky added.
The current guidelines still suggest disinfecting areas where confirmed coronavirus cases were present within the past 24-hours.
“Disinfection is only recommended in indoor settings — schools and homes — where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19 within the last 24 hours,” Walensky said, adding that “in most cases, fogging, fumigation and wide-area or electrostatic spraying is not recommended as a primary method of disinfection and has several safety risks to consider.”
Washing hands with soap and water, wearing a mask, and observing social distancing is enough to reduce the odds of transmission from a contaminated surface, the CDC guidelines concluded.