A new study examining air samples from hospital wards with COVID-19 patients has revealed that the deadly virus can travel up to four metres (13 feet).
The study which was led by a group of Chinese researchers tested surface and air samples from an Intensive Care Unit (ICU) and a General Covid-19 Ward (GW) at Huoshenshan Hospital in Wuhan.
The researchers, led by a team at the Academy of Military Medical Sciences in Beijing, collected swab samples from potentially contaminated objects in the ICU and GW which housed 15 and 24 patients respectively.
They found that the virus was mostly concentrated on the floor of the wards.
According to the researchers, the rate of the concentration of the virus was relatively high in the floor mostly because of gravity and air flow causing most virus droplets to float to the ground.
High levels of the virus were also found in frequently touched objects like computer mice, trash cans, sickbed handrails and doorknobs.
The study, which was published on Friday in Emerging Infectious Diseases, a journal of the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), also revealed that the shoe soles of the medical staff also comprised a high concentration of the virus.
“We highly recommend that persons disinfect shoe soles before walking out of wards containing COVID-19 patients,” the study stated.
The researchers suggested that medical staff should perform hand hygiene practices immediately after patient contact.
“In addition, our findings suggest that home isolation of persons with suspected COVID-19 might not be a good control strategy. Family members usually do not have personal protective equipment and lack professional training, which easily leads to familial cluster infections,” it added.