Government’s Covid hygiene policy is up in the air

Surface transmission Government’s Covid hygiene up in air
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The theory of surface transmission continues to underpin government policy and the reopening roadmap – but the science has moved on argues one respiratory expert.


The theory of surface transmission which has been at the heart of government policy for over a year and was cited as a reason why adult gaming centres with their proliferation of hard surfaces were not permitted to re-open last June, has been cast into doubt.

Experts are no longer persuaded that inanimate objects a catch-all which would include the surfaces on gaming machines, play any meaningful role in the spread of Covid.

A study by researchers at the University of Vienna ranked hygiene protocols undertaken by commercial organisations as being the 76th most effective measure of combatting the spread of Covid out of a list of 84 initiatives. Dr Julian Tang, a consultant virologist at Leicester University and an expert on respiratory viruses told The Sunday Times “Hand-washing and surface cleaning has not been shown to be particularly effective in controlling this virus. I’m not saying don’t do it – but this is not the main way this virus transmits.” He added: “There’s no point cleaning all surfaces in a shop several times a hour, but if you let too many people in at the same time the airborne virus concentration can become high in a poorly ventilated shop.”

According to The Lancet during the initial stages of the pandemic there was concern about surface transmission. However, the latest research suggests that this is unlikely to be a major route of transmission as although SARS-CoV-2 can persist for days on inanimate surfaces, attempts to culture the virus from these surfaces were unsuccessful.

Despite evidence pointing to the contrary the advice from government still contains orders setting out required hygiene protocols as well as the closure of changing rooms, the covering of soft furnishings and the handling of crockery, cutlery and glassware in pubs and restaurants.

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