You can stop scouring stores for disinfectant wipes. They won’t save you from COVID.
The chances of being infected with the novel coronavirus and getting COVID-19 via surfaces — that is, touching a surface with active virus on it, then touching your face — is only about one in 10,000, the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in new guidance issued Monday.
“It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low,” the CDC said.
Moreover, scrubbing with soap and water is sufficient in “most situations” on everyday household surfaces, due to the structure of the virus.
“Disinfection is only recommended in indoor-setting schools and homes where there has been a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19, within the last 24 hours,” CDC Director Dr. Rochelle Walensky said at a White House briefing Monday, according to ABC News.
Experts have been advising since last year that people keep the risks in perspective, The Associated Press reported last November.
The virus is fragile and doesn’t survive easily outside the body for long. Early studies finding it could linger on surfaces for days used large viral loads and were in laboratory conditions, not the real world. Other tests might just detect remnants of the virus, rather than live virus capable of infecting people.
Disinfecting or washing surfaces, or fomites, is helpful sometimes though.
“Surface disinfection has been shown to be effective for preventing secondary transmission of SARS-CoV-2 between an infected person and other people within households,” the CDC said. “However, there is little scientific support for routine use of disinfectants in community settings, whether indoor or outdoor, to prevent SARS-CoV-2 transmission from fomites.”
In terms of airborne transmission, the risk diminishes greatly within a day.
“Based on limited epidemiologic and experimental data, the risk of infection from entering a space where a person with COVID-19 has been is low after 24 hours,” the agency said.