Andrew Kelly / Reuters
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention fine-tuned their guidelines to prevent the spread of the coronavirus, hoping to clear up the confusion as to whether a person can contract the disease by touching surfaces on which the virus is located . The agency said that “usability improvements,” including changing the heading on its virus infection prevention website, appeared to trigger messages saying their policies had changed.
“Our language of transmission has not changed,” CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes told NPR.
According to the agency, the main source of the spread of the coronavirus are breath droplets from an infected person who coughs, sneezes or speaks in the immediate vicinity of another person.
“COVID-19 spreads mainly through close, person-to-person contact,” said Haynes. “While it may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object on which the virus is located and then touching their own mouth, nose, or possibly eyes, this is not the main route viewed the virus is spreading. “
A number of news agencies, including the Washington Post, found this week that the CDC had reorganized the information on its page entitled “How COVID-19 Spreads”.
Last month, the “Spread from Contact with Contaminated Surfaces and Objects” page, under its own subheading, was listed directly under a similar subheading “Person to Person Spread”.
The site now lists surfaces and objects in a new subsection entitled “The virus does not spread easily in other ways”.
In both the current and older versions of the site, the CDC says about surface transmission: “It is not believed that this is the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus.”
The CDC said people should continue to clean and disinfect dirty surfaces that the virus may be on.
“The transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to people on surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented,” says the agency on its website about surface disinfection. But it adds: “Current findings indicate that SARS-CoV-2 can remain viable on surfaces made of different materials for hours to days.”