The end of “hygiene theater”

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IslamNews – All that constant scrubbing, soaping and sanitizing?
It can stop now.

This week the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention updated its guidelines on the dangers of coronavirus infection from touching a doorknob, a subway pole, or other surface. The risk is extremely low.

The announcement was an about-face from the early days of the pandemic when the C.D.C. warned that the virus could survive on surfaces for days, and potentially infect people who touched a contaminated surface and then touched their faces.

That early guidance ushered in an era of what The Atlantic described as “hygiene theater,” in which Americans obsessively scrubbed their homes, quarantined packages, and ransacked drugstores for Clorox wipes. Companies and schools closed regularly for deep cleanings, and New York City subway cars were disinfected every night.

We now know those elaborate steps did not provide much — if any — protection from the virus.

“There’s really no evidence that anyone has ever gotten Covid-19 by touching a contaminated surface,” said an expert on airborne viruses.

In the early days of the pandemic, many experts believed the virus was spread primarily though large respiratory droplets that could theoretically fall onto surfaces, and then be picked up by touch and then passed to mucous membranes in the nose and the eyes. But we’ve learned over the past year that the virus spreads almost entirely through the air.

Experts now say that while it’s theoretically possible to catch the virus from a surface, it requires something of a perfect storm: lots of recently deposited virus particles on a surface that are then quickly transferred to someone’s hand, and then to the face. The updated guidelines from the C.D.C. say that chemical disinfectants are not needed to keep surface transmission low — just hand-washing, mask wearing and, in most cases, cleaning surfaces with regular soap and water.

Joseph Allen, a building safety expert at the Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health, said that for organizations like schools, businesses and other institutions, the new guidance “should be the end of deep cleaning.”

“It has led to closed playgrounds, it has led to taking nets off basketball courts, it has led to quarantining books in the library,” he said. “This frees up a lot of organizations to spend that money better.” (Although we wouldn’t mind if New York City subway cars continue to get a regular deep scrub.)

Source: The New York Times