Guangdong CDC reveals coronavirus in external environment for first time

As the epidemiological investigation (the branch of medicine which deals with the incidence, distribution, and control of diseases) of the new coronavirus continues to progress, more and more details about infection cases from all around China are being announced and a clearer picture of how people are getting infected is starting to form.

February 2nd, the Guangdong Provincial CDC revealed two cases highlighting how the public can become infected, be more aware and take precautions.

In the first case, last week a 26 year old man who lived in Zhuhai was diagnosed with a new coronavirus pneumonia. 

An investigation carried out by an epidemiologist from the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention revealed that the man most likely contracted the disease when he took a 2 hour bus ride from Guangzhou South Railway Station to Zhuhai.

In another case, a second man, also recently diagnosed with the new coronavirus, who stayed at home as much as possible, had no obvious history of visiting farmer’s markets or socialising, was at a complete loss as to how he became infected.

A subsequent epidemiological investigation found that he and another new coronavirus infected patient were upstairs / downstairs neighbours, and he most likely became infected by using the same elevator. 

In a follow up investigation the Guangzhou CDC found the nucleic acid of the coronavirus on the door handle of a confirmed patient’s apartment, the first time the nucleic acid of the new coronavirus was found in the external environment. 

A spokesperson for the CDC stated that this should be a warning to the public to pay more attention to hand hygiene. 

City disease control experts explained that there are many ways in which the virus may be indirectly spread, which are easily overlooked. 

For example, mobile phone screens, computer keyboards, faucets, etc., need daily sanatising. 

Zhang Zhoubin, deputy director of Guangzhou Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said “as our knowledge of the new coronavirus continues to grow, we now know that the virus is mainly transmitted through droplets and also through contact.”

Zhang Zhoubin said that contact transmission includes direct contact transmission and indirect contact transmission. 

Direct contact means direct contact with an infected patient. These cases will be screened as close contacts.

For ordinary community residents, the risk comes more from indirect contact.

“If the virus is attached to the surface of the object, you may touch the surface of the contaminated object and then eat, rub your eyes or touch your face, which may cause your infection.” 

Mobile phone screens, computer keyboards, faucets, etc., all need daily cleaning.

These clean blind spots in the home environment can easily lead to transmission risks. 

In the home environment, mobile phones, telephones, mouse keyboards, light switches, faucets, door handles, etc. are all touched often, but hygiene in these areas is quite often neglected, causing potential indirect transmission risks. 

Faucets: “There are not many families with automatic sensing faucets. Most people wash their hands by turning on the faucet, and then turning off the faucet after washing. 

If there is a virus on the hand, turning off the faucet will cause recontamination after washing.” 

Zhang Zhoubin pointed out, “It is one of the major blindspots for cleaning.”

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