Andrew Kelly / Reuters
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention clarifies its guidance for preventing the corona virus from spreading, hoping to clear up confusion over whether a person may be affected by the disease by touching surfaces that carry the virus. The agency said that “usability enhancements”, including a headline change on its Web site to prevent virus infection, appeared to trigger news that says its policies have changed.
“Our language of transmission has not changed,” CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes told NPR.
The main source of the coronavirus spread, the agency says, is through respiratory drops from an infected person who coughs, sneezes or talks near someone else.
“COVID-19 is spread primarily through close contact from person to person,” Haynes said. “While it may be possible for a person to get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes, this is not considered the main way on the virus is spreading. “
A number of news outlets, including The Washington Post, noted this week that the CDC had reorganized information on its page titled “How COVID-19 Spreads.”
Last month, the page “Spread from contact with contaminated surfaces and objects” listed under its own subheading, just under a similar sub-heading on “Person to person distribution.”
The page now lists areas and objects in a new sub-section entitled “The virus does not spread easily in other ways.”
On both the current version of the site and the older one, the surface transfer CDC says, “This is not considered the most important way the virus spreads, but we still learn more about this virus.”
The CDC said that people should continue to clean and disinfect dirty surfaces that may contain the virus.
“Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 to people from surfaces contaminated with the virus has not been documented,” the agency says on its page on surface disinfection. But it adds, “Current evidence suggests that SARS-CoV-2 can remain viable for hours to days on surfaces made of different materials.”