Surfaces can become contaminated with SARS-CoV-2 when someone infected with the virus (who may or may not have COVID-19 symptoms) releases the virus from their body into the environment, for example through coughing, sneezing, vomiting, or defecating. For example, in an isolation room occupied by a COVID-19 patient in Singapore, SARS-CoV-2 genetic material was reportedly detected on 87% of 15 room surfaces (including things like bed rails and windows) prior to cleaning. The same study found SARS-CoV-2 genetic material on 60% of 5 bathroom sites (including the toilet bowl, sink and door handle). Other studies have found similar results in healthcare settings (Study 1, Study 2, Study 3, Study 4, Study 5).

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Editor's Note

Author: Karin Gallandat
Review: Karen Levy, Jacqueline Knee, Sian White, Robert Dreibelbis
Last Update: 19.08.2020

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