New study tracks how fast a virus can spread across a hospital ward

22nd of June 2020
New study tracks how fast a virus can spread across a hospital ward

Researchers have published a study investigating how fast a DNA virus is able to spread on contaminated surfaces in a hospital setting.

Researchers placed DNA from a plant-infecting virus on a hospital bedrail with the aim of tracking how it was spread. A small amount of water was added to the virus to replicate the water concentrations found in SARS-CoV-2 copies of infected patients.

After 10 hours, the plant-infecting virus was detected in 41 per cent of the sampled areas across the ward. Within three days it had covered 59 per cent of sites and on the fifth day it had fallen back down to 41 per cent.

"People can become infected with COVID-19 through respiratory droplets produced during coughing or sneezing," said study co-author Dr Elaine Cloutman-Green. "Equally if these droplets land on a surface, a person may become infected after coming into contact with the surface and then touching their eyes, nose or mouth."

The highest proportion of virus DNA was found in the immediate vicinity of the bed with 86 per cent of the area around the bedside testing positive by the third day.

The virus used in the study - like COVID-19 - was capable of being removed with a disinfectant wipe or by washing the hands with soap and water.

"Cleaning and handwashing represent our first line of defence against the virus," said Dr Cloutman-Green. "This study is a significant reminder that healthcare workers and all visitors to a clinical setting can help stop its spread through strict hand hygiene, the cleaning of surfaces and the proper use of personal protective equipment."


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