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China Study Shows Why Frequent Handwashing is Vital

Reminder: Wash your hands, especially after you put on or take off your shoes.

A Chinese study (from a hospital where patients and physicians were all apparently wearing masks) found 40% aerosol concentration of Covid-19 in the ICU and 100% rate of positivity from the floor in the pharmacy (tracked in by the medical staff’s shoes).

The study offered these conclusions:

This study led to 3 conclusions. First, SARS-CoV-2 was widely distributed in the air and on object surfaces in both the ICU and GW, implying a potentially high infection risk for medical staff and other close contacts. Second, the environmental contamination was greater in the ICU than in the GW; thus, stricter protective measures should be taken by medical staff working in the ICU. Third, the SARS-CoV-2 aerosol distribution characteristics in the ICU indicate that the transmission distance of SARS-CoV-2 might be 4 m.

As of March 30, no staff members at Huoshenshan Hospital had been infected with SARS-CoV-2, indicating that appropriate precautions could effectively prevent infection. In addition, our findings suggest that home isolation of persons with suspected COVID-19 might not be a good control strategy. Family members usually do not have personal protective equipment and lack professional training, which easily leads to familial cluster infections (6). During the outbreak, the government of China strove to the fullest extent possible to isolate all patients with suspected COVID-19 by actions such as constructing mobile cabin hospitals in Wuhan (7), which ensured that all patients with suspected disease were cared for by professional medical staff and that virus transmission was effectively cut off. As of the end of March, the SARS-COV-2 epidemic in China had been well controlled.

Our study has 2 limitations. First, the results of the nucleic acid test do not indicate the amount of viable virus. Second, for the unknown minimal infectious dose, the aerosol transmission distance cannot be strictly determined.

Overall, we found that the air and object surfaces in COVID-19 wards were widely contaminated by SARS-CoV-2. These findings can be used to improve safety practices.

Guo, Z., Wang, Z., Zhang, S., Li, X., Li, L., Li, C….Chen, W. (2020). Aerosol and Surface Distribution of Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome Coronavirus 2 in Hospital Wards, Wuhan, China, 2020. Emerging Infectious Diseases26(7), 1583-1591. https://dx.doi.org/10.3201/eid2607.200885.

Conclusion Recap

1. Widely contaminated air and surfaces = potentially high risk for close contacts

2. Stricter protective measures should be taken by ICU staff (hand washing, disinfecting shoe soles, disinfecting patient masks before discarding them)

3. Transmission distance of SARS-CoV-2 might be 4 m. [4 m = around 12 ft]

Please don’t rely on masking while neglecting hand washing, sunshine, exercise, avoiding sugar, and other common-sense immunity-boosting habits.