There is not a significant risk of catching the coronavirus from an infected surface or object, the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said in a coronavirus guidance update on Monday.
People generally catch COVID-19 through direct contact with a sick person or droplet or airborne transmission, the nation’s top health agency said.
“It is possible for people to be infected through contact with contaminated surfaces or objects (fomites), but the risk is generally considered to be low,” the revised guidance states.
Case reports have shown that the virus can be transmitted when a person touches something that an infected individual has recently coughed or sneezed on, and then touches their mouth, nose, or eyes.
However, the CDC noted, studies have found that the risk of catching the bug via an infected surface is generally less than 1 in 10,000.
The agency also now says that simple cleaning agents appear to be effective against the virus, and that disinfectants aren’t necessary in most situations.
“There is little scientific support for routine use of disinfectants in community settings, whether indoor or outdoor,” to prevent spread through surfaces, the CDC said.
“In most situations, cleaning surfaces using soap or detergent, and not disinfecting, is enough to reduce risk.”
Disinfection is still recommended in indoor settings, the agency said.
“When no people with confirmed or suspected COVID-19 are known to have been in a space, cleaning once a day is usually enough to sufficiently remove virus that may be on surfaces and help maintain a healthy facility.”
The new guidelines were introduced by Dr. Rochelle Walensky, the CDC director, during a White House coronavirus briefing on Monday.
She said that some cleaning methods, like fogging, fumigation and electrostatic spraying, aren’t recommended as a primary method of disinfection and actually carry safety risks.
The revised recommendations came after the CDC said in May that COVID-19 “does not spread easily” through touching surfaces or objects. Before that, at the beginning of the pandemic in March, the agency had warned that “it may be possible” to pass on the bug from contaminated surfaces.