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27 Iyar, 5780 - May 21, 2020 | Mordecai Plaut, director Published Weekly










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Israeli Research: Small Chance of Covid-19 Transmission through Touching Surfaces - CDC Agrees

By D. Rosen

An Israeli study whose data is being culled these days hopes to provide information on one of the major disturbing questions concerning Corona: Is the virus contagious through touch of surfaces which infected people have touched or have been in close contact with others? This question caused the skyrocketing of sales of anti-disinfectants and of introducing strange practices and dubious safeguards to the point of quarantining books returned to a public library or disinfecting buses and classrooms.

This study, which included doctors and researchers from the Assuta Hospital in Ashdod. Laniado Hospital in Netanya and the Biological Institute in Nes Tziyona, found a high probability that viruses from even a sick patient's environment do not have the power to be cultivated in a laboratory and are no longer alive or active. At least this is what Meital Yasoud Beit Ohr, an Israeli health correspondent, revealed this past Monday.

Samples were taken from surfaces in the Corona wards of Assuta and Laniado hospitals, as well as samples gathered from surfaces which patients touched, and even from their cellphones. From the partial results received up till now, it appears that the virus samples have not succeeded in being cultured in lab conditions or been able to contaminate others. The significance thereof is that the virus is not contagious through mere touch.

In the second stage of the study, many surfaces were tested in the Arlington Corona 'Hotel' in Ashkelon, including articles which the patients handled like siddurim, elevator buttons, cups, bottles, chairs, knobs, handles and other surfaces. Final results will be released in the near future.

Nonetheless, the Health Ministry's position is that "the primary source of infection from the Corona virus is through direct contact between people and respiratory spray. Drops of mucous from sneezing or coughing landing on surfaces can certainly be a source of contamination. It is advised to clean [such surfaces] with soap and water and afterwards, to disinfect them. This relates to surfaces with which many hands come in contact, in buildings and public areas.

The US CDC has also downgraded touching contaminated objects as a path of transmission of the disease. On the CDC website, under the heading "The virus does not spread easily in other ways," it says, "It may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly their eyes. This is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus."


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