Environmental contamination of SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare premises

Environmental contamination of SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare premises Jefferson T, Heneghan C. 


Published on July 27, 2020

Reference Ye G, Lin H, Chen S, et al. Environmental contamination of SARS-CoV-2 in healthcare premises.  J Infect. 2020;S0163-4453(20)30260-7. doi:10.1016/j.jinf.2020.04.034
Study type
Country China
Setting Hospital
Funding Details Emergency Science and Technology Project from the Science and Technology Department of Hubei Province, China
Transmission mode Fomites
Exposures Hospital

Bottom Line

Widespread contamination of commonly used surfaces including personal protective equipment  imply the absolute requirements for routine cleaning and disinfection of surfaces.

Evidence Summary

Of the samples, 13.6% were positive for SARS-CoV. The most commonly contaminated surfaces were self-service printers (20%), desktops (17%), doorknobs (16%), telephones (13%),

medical equipment (13%), and “public facilities” [although it is unclear what this means] (8%). 5.6% of samples from walls and floors were positive. The 13% of Healthcare Workers (HCWs) Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) were positive (hand sanitizer dispensers 20%, gloves; 16%, and eye protector or face shield 1.7%).

The most contaminated zones of the hospital were the ICU that specialized with Covid-19 pneumonia patients (32%), the Obstetric Isolation Ward with pregnant women with COVID-19 pneumonia (28%), and the Isolation Ward for COVID-19 pneumonia patients (20%). The contaminated zones were the outpatient lobby (17% positive samples), Emergency Department (13%), Office and Preparation Area of the Isolation Ward for COVID-19 pneumonia patients (12%), Obstetric Ward (12%), and Clinical Laboratories (12%), then the Fever Clinics (6.5% positive samples), CT Examination Room (5.6%), and General Ward (5.5%). 

What did they do?

The study reports the test results of 626 surface swabs taken from 13 hospital function zones, five major objects, and three major PPEs in the Zhongnan Medical Center in Wuhan during the period February 7th to February 27t , 2020. Testing for SARS-CoV-2 RNAs was done by reverse transcription-PCR. The Medical Centre is a 3300-bed hospital.

Study reliability

Clearly defined setting Demographic characteristics described Follow-up length was sufficient Transmission outcomes assessed Main biases are taken into consideration
Yes No Yes No Partly *
* The limitations of the study are the lack of culture of positive specimens, air sampling and failure to ascertain levels of exposure

What else should I consider?



About the authors

Carl Heneghan

Carl is Professor of EBM & Director of CEBM at the University of Oxford. He is also a GP and tweets @carlheneghan. He has an active interest in discovering the truth behind health research findings

Tom Jefferson

Tom Jefferson, epidemiologist.