New research finds COVID-19 also spread by fecal-oral route

Industry urged to focus more cleaning efforts in restrooms.

While many building managers and cleaning professionals are focused on the fact that COVID-19 (coronavirus) is spread by inhaling germs or touching contaminated surfaces, new evidence from China indicates it can also be spread by fecal-oral transmission.

The research was conducted by Dr. Hong Shan of the Fifth Affiliated Hospital, at Sun Yat-Sen University, in Zhuhai, China. This hospital was founded in 1924 and is considered one of China’s preeminent medical research centers.

Dr. Shan and his staff were one of the first medical teams to recognize that the SARS virus of the early 2000s could also be spread by fecal-oral transmission.

Shan’s latest research uncovered the following:

  • A large percentage of coronavirus patients experienced diarrhea, nausea, vomiting, and abdominal discomfort before the onset of respiratory symptoms.
  • The genetic material associated with the coronavirus, RNA, was detectable in fecal samples.
  • Fecal-oral transmission can last even after a patent has recovered from the virus.

Commenting on the research, Peter Hotez, MD, at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston, said many of the patients in China later were diagnosed with COVID-19 “were [first] admitted to surgical wards and thought to have abdominal emergencies.”

This is further indication that the virus may follow the fecal-oral route, according to Bob Robinson, Sr., CEO, and Founder of Kaivac.

“This means we must focus more of our cleaning efforts to stop the spread of this infection in restrooms. That’s the only way to break this cycle of transmission.”

Additionally, Robinson recommends the following:

  • If manually cleaning restroom fixtures, remind cleaning workers of the two-step process: first clean surfaces then disinfect.
  • Should the disinfectant dry on a surface, it must be re-applied.
  • Cleaning cloths and mops should be changed frequently, “after cleaning each restroom… do not re-use them, place them in a plastic bag to be laundered later.”
  • If using no-touch cleaning systems, select a concentrated no-rinse, hospital-use disinfectant; the two-step process is not necessary using the no-touch cleaning method, which should further speedup restroom cleaning.

“Also, cleaning professionals must realise there has never been a time in our history when proper and effective cleaning is needed more.

“This is our time to prove our value and the value of clean.”

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