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New York Times

Is the era of enthusiastic cleaning finally over?

When the coronavirus began to spread in the United States last spring, many experts warned of surface hazards. Researchers report that the virus can survive for several days in plastic or stainless steel, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that after someone touched one of these contaminated surfaces, it could be found in the eyes, nose, or mouth. He advised that if touched, it could be infected. The Americans responded kindly, wiped groceries, quarantined mail, and cleaned up Clorox wipes on drugstore shelves. Facebook has closed two offices for “deep cleaning”. The Metropolitan Transportation Authority in New York has begun disinfecting subway cars every night. However, the “sanitary theater” era ended informally this week when the CDC updated its surface cleaning guidelines and pointed out that touching a contaminated surface poses less than 1 in 10,000 risk of being infected with the virus. There is a possibility. “Contact with contaminated surfaces and objects can infect the virus that causes COVID-19,” said Dr. Rochelle Warrensky, director of the CDC, in the New York Times’ Morning Newsletter. Said in the briefing. on Monday. “But evidence shows that the risk of infection by this transmission route is actually low,” scientists say. “Finally,” said Lindsey Marr, an aerial virus expert at Virginia Tech. “We’ve known this for a long time, but people are still very focused on cleaning the surface.” “Evidence of touching a contaminated surface and getting infected with COVID-19 is actually No, “she added. In the early days of the pandemic, many experts believed that the virus spreads primarily through large respiratory droplets. These droplets are too heavy to travel long distances in the air, but they can fall on objects or surfaces. In this context, it seemed reasonable to focus on scraping off all surfaces. “Cleaning the surface is more familiar,” Ma said. “We know how to do it. You can see the people doing it, you can see the clean surface. So it makes people feel safer and I think. “But last year, it became increasingly clear that the virus spread primarily in the air. Both large and small droplets can stay in the air longer. Washing door handles and subway seats does little to keep people safe. Emmanuel Goldman, a microbiologist at Rutgers University, wrote that the risk of surface infections was exaggerated last summer. “This is a virus that is transmitted by breathing. It is not a virus that is transmitted by touch.” The CDC previously acknowledged that the surface is not the primary way for the virus to spread. But this week’s official statement went a step further. “The most important part of this update is to clearly communicate to the general public the correct low risk from the surface. This is not a message that has been clearly communicated over the past year,” said Building Safety. Expert Joseph Allen said. At Harvard School of Public Health. He said it was theoretically possible to catch the virus from the surface. But if that doesn’t work, much is needed. This is because many fresh infectious virus particles adhere to the surface and relatively large amounts of virus particles are quickly transferred to someone’s hands and face. “Being on the surface is not the same as risk,” Allen said. According to the latest CDC cleaning guidelines, in most cases, in addition to hand washing and wearing a mask, a simple soap and water wash will reduce the chance of surface infection. In most everyday scenarios and environments, people do not need to use chemical disinfectants, the agency says. Donald Milton, an aerosol scientist at the University of Maryland, said: “It doesn’t help to spray or mist a lot of chemicals.” Still, the guidelines are to clean and disinfect the area if a person with COVID-19 is in a particular space within the last day. It suggests that it is necessary. “Disinfection is recommended only in indoor environments (schools and homes) where there have been suspected or confirmed cases of COVID-19 within the last 24 hours,” Walensky said in a White House briefing. “Also, in most cases, fogging, fumigation, widespread or electrostatic spraying are not recommended as the primary method of disinfection and there are some safety risks to consider.” , Does not apply to medical facilities that may require more intensive cleaning and disinfection. Saskia Popescu, an infectious disease epidemiologist at George Mason University, said he was pleased to see the new guidance “reflecting our evolving data on the transmission of the entire pandemic.” However, she should continue regular washing and maintain proper hand washing methods to reduce the risk of infection with not only the coronavirus but also other pathogens that may remain on certain surfaces. Said it was still important. Allen said school and business officials he spoke to this week expressed relief in the updated guidelines. “This frees many organizations to spend their money better,” he said. Schools, businesses and other institutions that want to keep people safe need to shift their attention from the surface to air quality and invest in improving ventilation and filtration, he said. “This should be the end of deep cleaning,” Allen said, saying that misplaced focus on the surface actually comes at a cost. “It led to a closed playground, removing the net from the basketball court, and quarantining books in the library. It missed school day for deep cleaning. It can no longer be shared. This is the direct result of all hygiene theaters and not properly classifying surface infections as low risk. ”This article was originally published in the New York Times. © 2021 The New York Times Company