Coronavirus: smear infections over contaminated surfaces?

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Many people worry: Can I become infected with corona when touching contaminated surfaces? And how great is the risk of the virus entering the body through the eyes? What is the assessment of experts?

The novel corona virus SARS-CoV-2 is transmissible from person to person. The main transmission route is droplet infection. However, according to experts, transmission by smear infection via the hands that come into contact with the mucous membranes of the mouth or nose and the conjunctiva of the eyes cannot be ruled out in principle.

On smooth surfaces such as cell phone displays and ATMs, the corona virus can survive up to 28 days under certain laboratory conditions. At least that is what the Australian science authority Csiro writes in the journal “Virology Journal”. The experiment was carried out in the dark, as direct sunlight can kill the virus quickly, according to studies. The German Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR) states that it is not aware of any corona infections via surfaces such as card terminals and smartphones.

Virus can survive on surfaces for up to 28 days

“At 20 degrees Celsius, about room temperature, we found that the virus is extremely robust and survives for 28 days on smooth surfaces such as glass from cell phone screens and plastic banknotes,” Debbie Eagles, deputy director of the Australian Center for Disease Prevention, which conducted the research, said in a statement. In previous studies, the corona virus could only be detected for up to three days on plastic and stainless steel surfaces. Similar experiments for influenza A have shown that this virus survived for 17 days on surfaces.

According to the Federal Institute for Risk Assessment (BfR), however, there have not yet been any cases in which it has been proven that the coronavirus was transmitted to humans through contact with contaminated objects and surfaces and that infections occurred. However, according to the information provided, smear infections on surfaces that were recently contaminated with viruses cannot be ruled out.

According to the Australian study, the virus survived longer on smooth surfaces such as glass, stainless steel and vinyl compared to composite, porous surfaces such as cotton. An important finding was the life span of the virus on glass. ATMs, self-service checkouts in supermarkets and check-in machines at airports have surfaces that are frequently touched and may not be cleaned regularly. Therefore, the rule still applies: frequently wash hands and clean surfaces.

According to medical experts, corona infection via the eyes is unlikely, but not impossible. For example, if you rub your eyes with corona-contaminated hands, a transmission to the nasal mucosa or the respiratory tract would be conceivable, said Clemens Lange from the University Medical Center Freiburg at the annual congress of the German Ophthalmological Society (DOG). There are connections in the head between the eyes and the nose, such as tear ducts. However, in the current state of the study “there is nothing to suggest that we need to consider the eyes as a significant entry or exit portal for the virus,” Lange noted.

According to Lange, some studies postulate that infection via the conjunctiva is possible. However, it is not yet clear whether the cells of the ocular surface have sufficient entry ports. In none of the samples from 46 people examined were relevant quantities of the receptors ACE-2 or TMPRSS2, which are important for corona, found in the conjunctiva, said Lange, who was involved in this study. Other researchers had found evidence of these receptors in the cornea, but had not investigated actual corona transmission over them. (ad; source: dpa)

Corona: Danger of a smear infection?
WashingtonNewsday Health and Wellness.

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