Bonn (dpa/tmn) – The best advice to protect loved ones in the same house or apartment from the transmission of their own corona virus is: the sick person isolates himself in a room and pays attention to distance and a mask if does it must meet. But what happens after that, when he or she has recovered?
Many report the need to scrub the entire house from top to bottom and disinfect all surfaces after a Covid-19 infection. What do the experts think of this?
The Federal Center for Health Education (BZgA) recommends cleaning frequently touched surfaces such as light switches, door handles, bathroom and toilet surfaces or even smartphones with a household cleaning product every day.
According to the BZgA, the coronavirus is transmitted mainly through the air. But virus-containing particles that we release when we cough, sneeze, or talk can stick to surfaces, especially in the immediate vicinity of a sick person.
Peter Walger of the board of the German Society for Hospital Hygiene assesses this danger somewhat differently. In his opinion, it is “absolutely superfluous” to scrub the entire house from top to bottom and disinfect all surfaces after a Covid 19 infection. “Infections are not transmitted this way,” says the specialist in internal medicine, intensive medicine and infectology .
“The transmission of the SARS-CoV-2 virus is essentially through breathing,” explains the hospital hygienist. “The point of entry of the virus is the mouth, nose and throat. And we have virtually no evidence that there is a relevant indirect transmission route through inanimate surfaces.”
You would have to touch someone else’s nasal mucus.
One exception is when you get to so-called respiratory secretions. “So if someone coughs, put your hands on what they coughed up and then touch your own mucous membranes in the mouth, nose, and throat area with your hands,” Walger explains. “But when do you ever touch another person’s visible cough and saliva? You don’t really do that for cosmetic reasons.” And if you’re not sure: washing your hands with soap and water helps.
Families with very young children will raise their hands at this point: Babies and toddlers drool and can’t blow their noses on their own. But here, too, Walger doesn’t recommend any special precautions other than more frequent handwashing. As usual, he should keep his distance during an infection, and if this is not possible, wear a mask as an adult and wash his hands more often.
Disinfectants are not usually necessary.
Even in the bathroom, the risk of infection is limited, at least if you use the sinks one after the other during a home infection. “And if you wash and clean normally where you wash and spit out the contents of your nose,” says Walger.
The doctor adds: “There’s not even a reason to use surface disinfection here.” Both expert sides agree on this, and the Federal Center for Health Education does not typically recommend disinfecting door handles, light switches, toilet seats, and all other surfaces in the home.
Individual cases, for example to protect particularly vulnerable people, are excluded. And then it would have to be a special product that carries designations like “limited virucidal”, “limited virucidal PLUS” or “virucidal”.
Experts’ assessments of the bedding, which gets stained with sweat and saliva at night, differ again. For Walger, no special hygienic treatment is necessary during and after an infection.
The Federal Center for Health Education recommends collecting the clothes of a sick person in a separate laundry bag, not directly touching or shaking them. Towels and bedding should be washed at least 60 degrees with strong detergent and dried completely.