How Can People Make Their Cloth Masks Safer If They Cant Get Access To N95s Or Surgical Masks
It’s hard to make the cloth masks safer, to be perfectly honest with you.
If I think of a spectrum, what I would love to have the person who wants to be the most cautious, or the person who I’m most worried would have something bad happen to them if they contracted omicron, I definitely want them to have an N95. In the absence of that, I would worry about them spending extended periods of time with other people, at a time when community transmission is as high as it is right now.
After that, the way to improve the surgical mask, where you have some filtration, is to actually improve the fit. What we’ve advised in case people dont have access is to wear a cloth mask over a surgical mask because it fits tighter to the face, plus you get some of the filtration benefits of the surgical mask.
If you really can’t find either of those categories of things that are optimal for filtration, probably what I would do is double the cloth masks.
But you should recognize that with omicron there, if you’re spending any more than a few minutes with people you don’t know who might be infected, the cloth mask just isn’t enough of a barrier.
Virus Rna Can Mislead
The focus on fomites rather than aerosols emerged at the very beginning of the coronavirus outbreak because of what people knew about other infectious diseases. In hospitals, pathogens such as methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus, respiratory syncytial virus and norovirus can cling to bed rails or hitch a ride from one person to the next on a doctors stethoscope. So as soon as people started falling ill from the coronavirus, researchers began swabbing hospital rooms and quarantine facilities for places the virus could be lurking. And it seemed to be everywhere.
In medical facilities, personal items such as reading glasses and water bottles tested positive for traces of viral RNA the main way that researchers identify viral contamination. So, too, did bed rails and air vents. In quarantined households, wash basins and showers harboured the RNA, and in restaurants, wooden chopsticks were found to be contaminated. And early studies suggested that contamination could linger for weeks. Seventeen days after the Diamond Princess cruise ship was vacated, scientists found viral RNA on surfaces in cabins of the 712 passengers and crew members who tested positive for COVID-19.
Sanitization of public transport in New York City cost hundreds of millions of dollars in 2020.Credit: Noam Galai/Getty
But contamination with viral RNA is not necessarily cause for alarm, says Goldman. The viral RNA is the equivalent of the corpse of the virus, he says. Its not infectious.
Covid Virus Survives For 28 Days In Lab Conditions
The virus responsible for Covid-19 can remain infectious on surfaces such as banknotes, phone screens and stainless steel for 28 days, researchers say.
The findings from Australia’s national science agency suggest SARS-Cov-2 can survive for far longer than thought.
However, the experiment was conducted in the dark. UV light has already been shown to kill the virus.
Some experts have also thrown doubt on the actual threat posed by surface transmission in real life.
The coronavirus is mostly transmitted when people cough, sneeze or talk.
But there is also evidence that it can also be spread by particles hanging in the air. It is also possible someone could get Covid-19 by touching infected surfaces such as metal or plastic, according to the US Centers for Disease Control. This is believed to be much less common, however.
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Carolyn Machamer A Cell Biologist Who Specializes In Coronaviruses Discusses The Latest Research On The Virus That Causes Covid
According to a recent study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, can live in the air and on surfaces between several hours and several days. The study found that the virus is viable for up to 72 hours on plastics, 48 hours on stainless steel, 24 hours on cardboard, and 4 hours on copper. It is also detectable in the air for three hours.
Carolyn Machamer, a professor of cell biology whose lab at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine has studied the basic biology of coronaviruses for years, joined Johns Hopkins MPH/MBA candidate Samuel Volkin for a brief discussion of these findings and what they mean for efforts to protect against spread of the virus. The conversation has been edited for length and clarity.
Volkin: According to this report, it sounds like the COVID-19 virus is potentially living on surfaces for days. How worried should we be about our risk of becoming infected simply by touching something an infected person was in contact with days ago?
Machamer: What’s getting a lot of press and is presented out of context is that the virus can last on plastic for 72 hourswhich sounds really scary. But what’s more important is the amount of the virus that remains. It’s less than 0.1% of the starting virus material. Infection is theoretically possible but unlikely at the levels remaining after a few days. People need to know this.
The CDC guidelines on how to protect yourself include:
What Are The Key Habits To Prevent Covid
The Government’s emphasis on hand washing and wearing face coverings has been reinforced under the latest guidance, which comes as cases of the new Omicron variant continue to rise.
While the Health and Safety Executive guidance details how to clean the workplace and public venues to tackle coronavirus, there is little detail on how to deal with it in the home.
Speaking exclusively to Express.co.uk, Shaun Doak, CEO of REACT Specialist Cleaning said: Personal hygiene is an important factor when trying to keep Covid out of the home.
Our hands are the most likely body part that will come into contact with any infected surfaces so we need to keep the 20-second rule for washing our hands as a priority, especially with the spread of the new variant.
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Can The Coronavirus Live In Water
Its unknown exactly how long SARS-CoV-2 can survive in water. However, a study from 2009 investigated the survival of a common human coronavirus in filtered tap water.
This study found that coronavirus levels dropped by 99.9 percent after 10 days in room temperature tap water. The coronavirus that was tested was more stable at lower water temperatures and less stable at higher temperatures.
So what does that mean for drinking water? Remember that our water systems treat our drinking water before we drink it, which should inactivate the virus. According to the CDC, SARS-CoV-2
What Is The Covid Fatality Rate
COVID-19 causes more cases of severe disease and more deaths than the seasonal flu. People over age 85 have the highest risk of fatality and children under 19 have the lowest, but this could change as more people are tested and trends become clearer for the variants. If, over time, widespread testing reveals milder, nonfatal cases of COVID-19, the death rate will go down.
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Science’s ‘bias’ Against Airborne Spread
Earlier this year a team of international experts including Dr Tang wrote a paper highlighting sciences long bias against the theory of airborne disease.
The reasons for this have their roots in the history of medicine, but the authors believe that a whole string of Covid precautions including the wearing of masks and improved ventilation of public buildings were tragically and unnecessarily delayed because of it.
Ordinary members of the public were even advised against wearing masks in early 2020 as we were wanted touching our faces with dirty hands would actually increase the risk of transmission.
Professor Jose-Luis Jimenez, lead author of the paper and a chemistry professor at the University of Colorado, told The Telegraph that policymakers and politicians had a natural bias against the idea that diseases may be airborne.
Droplets and surfaces are very convenient for people in power all of the responsibility is on the individual, he said. On the other hand, if you admit it is airborne, institutions, governments and companies have to do something.
Protect yourself and your family by learning more about Global Health Security
Should I Still Be Cleaning Surfaces Forensically
In short, yes. But not for the reason you think.
Cleaning surfaces and washing hands will always be an important element of infection prevention control. But it may well be more important for preventing other diseases like MRSA, E coli, or norovirus than Covid-19.
For coronavirus, many experts now believe that the air we breathe may well be the key routes of transmission, which explains why mask-wearing and a focus on ventilation have become the watchwords.
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How To Clean Fabrics To Stop Transmission
Its important to remove items of clothing before moving away from the site of possible transmission. This means taking off uniforms or clothes and laundering them in the original place where possible. If youre living with someone who has coronavirus then follow these tips to reduce the risk for transmission via textiles.
If youre laundering fabrics at home, wash all items that may have been exposed together. Wash towels and sports kit in your washing machine at 60°C. Commonly used textiles that havent been used by an infected person can be washed as normal. Clean your washing machine as usual, using an antibacterial washing machine cleaner.
It youre travelling to a launderette to wash your clothes or textiles, wait for 72 hours after the item was used. For people isolating with the virus, you need to wait an additional three days after your isolation period ends before taking clothing to a launderette.
Ventilation Expensive And Complex
So why have we spent so much time focused on cleaning surfaces? There is a performative element if you can see someone wiping down a handrail in a station or office, you feel reassured. But focusing on surfaces is also easier and cheaper than investing in ventilation.
Installing ventilation is expensive and involves complex mathematical calculations of airflow based on the size of the room and the number of people inside. Of course, opening a window helps to get the air moving, but if the room overlooks a busy road or is near some kind of industrial output, this is not ideal. Winter also brings its own set of challenges.
Portable air filters can be dotted around a room, but you have to ensure there are enough for the size of the space and that their filters are changed frequently.
With high Covid rates, you want clean air and masks, said Dr Squires. When face to face unmasked, ventilation wont stop infection: if youre opposite a smoker, an open window wont help too much if theyre breathing smoke into your face. Masks provide that protection.
But he added: Fresh, clean or sterilised air is extremely good at reducing transmission and works on any variant, and other airborne infectious diseases too. Its a good long-term investment, and its also very doable.
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Whats The Difference Between The New Coronavirus And Other Coronaviruses
There are many different kinds of coronavirus. Some only affect animals. Some have been circulating among human beings for years, causing respiratory illness and colds. Others have caused small, severe human disease outbreaks in the past, such as the coronaviruses that caused severe acute respiratory syndrome in 2003 and Middle East respiratory syndrome in 2012. The new coronavirus is different from these, and was first identified in December 2019.
Is Coronavirus Airborne?
Stomach Viruses And Bacteria
Viruses, such as the norovirus, are common causes of stomach bugs . Norovirus can last for weeks on surfaces like lift buttons and doorknobs.
E. coli is usually spread through contaminated food or water, or contact with infected animals, but it can survive on surfaces like cooking utensils for several months.
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Whats Safe To Do Right Now A Health Professional Explains Her Choices During The Omicron Surge
It is notoriously good and probably one of the most efficient viruses many people have seen, at least in their lifetime at moving person to person, said Dr. Kirsten Bibbins-Domingo, chair of the UC San Francisco department of epidemiology and biostatistics. She also heads up the UC San Francisco COVID-19 Community Public Health Initiative.
Bibbons-Domingo spoke with CapRadio about what we know now about how COVID-19 specifically the omicron variant spreads, which masks can best protect against the virus, and other questions to think about as we try and stay safe in this latest wave.
She also discussed her approach to deciding what activities are safe to her during the omicron surge .
This interview was edited for length and clarity.
What Have We Learned About How Covid
COVID is a virus that spreads in the air. One of the reasons we think that omicron is more infectious and moves more easily from person to person is it seems to be preferentially in your nose and mouth and upper airways. It seems to not like to spread in the cells that are deep in your lungs. Both are probably the reasons it is a little bit better at getting out across from one person to another.
Because it’s not as much in the lungs, may be the reason for many people, it doesn’t cause as severe pneumonias and the things that land you in the hospital. But it is notoriously good and probably one of the most efficient viruses many people have seen, at least in their lifetime at moving person to person, because it spreads through the air.
At the start of the pandemic, when we knew very little about the virus, we were particularly concerned that we had to scrub the pizza boxes when they were delivered to our houses, or that if someone had touched something, that we had to be worried about touching that surface. That is probably not a very useful way to think about the virus. What is much more useful is to think about those droplets from people who are positive, or the very fine droplets that hang in the air in rooms that aren’t ventilated.
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Is It Safe To Travel
Outbreaks of coronavirus variants, including the very contagious delta variant, are occurring in the United States and in countries around the world. Traveling to places with high infection rates, especially with unvaccinated children or adults, raises the risk of catching and transmitting the virus. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has on a range of destinations.
Travelers should be cautious about cruise ship travel and situations that involve crowded places. You are less likely to catch the coronavirus that causes COVID-19 on airplanes because of air circulation and filtering, but you may be asked about your infection risk when you book a flight. And be aware that you may be prevented from returning from certain sites should they be on lockdown due to a surge in cases.
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Can Humans Get The Coronavirus From Dogs Or Cats
Jason Villano, D.V.M., a veterinary expert at Johns Hopkins, says, Despite the very few reports worldwide, including here in the United States, of sick and healthy domestic animals, including pets, testing positive for SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19, there is little evidence at this time that such animals are easily infected with the virus under normal conditions, or could transmit it.
If COVID-19 cases are increasing in your area, experts recommend keeping pets indoors or avoiding socialization of pets with other animals, and maintaining good hygiene when handling or caring for your animals.
- Wash your hands before and after interacting with animals.
- Dont kiss your pets or let them lick you or share your food.
- Walk dogs on a leash. Do not allow pets to interact with people or other animals outside the household.
- People who are ill with COVID-19 should let someone else take care of their animals. If this isnt possible, patients should wear a mask while looking after their pet, and wash their hands before and after.
Reliable sources for updates include the CDC, the United States Department of Agriculture and the American Veterinary Medical Association.
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Effect On Other Diseases And The Pharmacy Trade
There was a report on 3 March 2021, that social distancing and common wearing of surgical masks and similar as a common precaution against COVID-19 caused a drop in the spread rate of the common cold and flu. So much so, that in Britain the sale of cough liquids and throat lozenges and from 30 November 2020 to 21 February 2021, was about a half of the sale a year earlier. Public Health England reported no cases of flu in the year 2021 to date, and that there was an 89% rise in sales of Vitamin D to try to boost immunity.
When To Be Concerned
Not all situations are risk-free: If you lean against high-touch surfaces which may have been exposed to COVID-19, there may be more of a chance that your clothing could harbor the virus. And if you work in a health care environment where patients have COVID-19, the risk of your clothing being exposed to viral particles may increase.
Research suggests that COVID-19 doesnt survive for long on clothing, compared to hard surfaces, and exposing the virus to heat may shorten its life. A study published in found that at room temperature, COVID-19 was detectable on fabric for up to two days, compared to seven days for plastic and metal. However, when it was exposed to high heat, the virus became inactive within five minutes.
If youre concerned that your clothing may have been exposed to COVID-19, the best way to get rid of the virus is to wash any exposed clothing on heated cycles, says John Sensakovic, M.D., division director of infectious disease at JFK Medical Center.
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