The detection of SARS-CoV-2 in outpatient clinics and public facilities during the COVID-19 pandemic.J Med Virol. 2021 05; 93(5):2955-2961.JM
The transmission of the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) can occur through an airborne route, in addition to contaminated surfaces and objects. In hospitals, it has been confirmed by several studies that SARS-CoV-2 can contaminate surfaces and medical equipment especially in hospitals dedicated to coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) patients. The aim of this study was to detect the contamination of hands, objects, and surfaces in isolation rooms and also in outpatients' clinics in hospitals and polyclinics. Environmental contamination of public high-touch surfaces in public facilities was also investigated during an active COVID-19 pandemic. Random swabs were also taken from public shops, pharmacies, bakeries, groceries, banknotes, and automated teller machines (ATMs). Samples were analyzed for SARS-CoV-2 positivity using real-time polymerase chain reaction. In the COVID-19 regional reference hospital, only 3 out of 20 samples were positive for SARS-CoV-2 RNA. Hand swabs from SARS-CoV-2-positive patients in isolation rooms were occasionally positive for viral RNA. In outpatients' clinics, door handles were the most contaminated surfaces. Dental chairs, sinks, keyboards, ophthalmoscopes, and laboratory equipment were also contaminated. Although no positive swabs were found in shops and public facilities, random ATM swabs returned a positive result for SARS-CoV-2. Although there is no longer a focus on COVID-19 wards and isolation hospitals, more attention is required to decontaminate frequently touched surfaces in health-care facilities used by patients not diagnosed with COVID-19. Additionally, high-touch public surfaces such as ATMs require further disinfection procedures to limit the transmission of the infection.