Background: Coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) is characterized by risk of nosocomial transmission; however, the extent of environmental contamination and its potential contribution of environmental contamination to SARS-CoV-2 transmission are poorly understood. This study aimed to investigate whether environmental contamination may play a role in SARS-CoV-2 transmission.
Methods: Air samples were collected by natural precipitation, and environmental surface samples were collected by conventional surface swabbing. SARS-CoV-2 RNA detection was performed using reverse transcription polymerase chain reaction.
Results: Viral RNA was not detected in the 44 air samples. The positive rates in 200 environmental surface samples in medical areas (24.83%) was higher than that in living quarters (3.64%), with a significant difference (P < .05). The positive rates were 25.00% and 37.50% for the general isolation ward and intensive care unit, respectively, and no significant difference was observed between them (P = .238). The top 5 sampling sites with a positive rate in medical areas were beepers (50.00%), water machine buttons (50.00%), elevator buttons (42.86%), computer mouses (40.00%), and telephones (40.00%).
Conclusions: Most of the touchable surfaces in the designated hospital for COVID-19 were heavily contaminated, suggesting that the environment is a potential medium of disease transmission. These results emphasize the need for strict environmental surface hygiene practices and enhanced hand hygiene to prevent the spread of the virus.
Keywords: Air; Disinfection; Environmental surface; Hand hygiene; Hospital-associated infection.
Copyright © 2020 Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology, Inc. Published by Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.