The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has updated its guidelines to stress that the coronavirus “does not spread easily” on contaminated surfaces.
Health officials had previously warned, “The virus could be transmitted through infected respiratory droplets and by touching infected surfaces and then touching your nose, mouth, and possibly your eyes.” The CDC guidelines now say, “The virus spreads easily between people” but not “from touching surfaces or objects,” “from animals to people,” or “from people to animals.”
The change comes after a German virologist leading the response to the country’s worst-hit areas said in April that he hadn’t found evidence the virus could live on surfaces. Dr. Hendrik Streeck reported that a team investigated the home of an infected family and found that it “did not have any live virus on any surface.” He told German TV, “There are no proven infections while shopping or at the hairdresser.”
“The virus spreads in other places: the party in Ischgl, the club in Berlin, the football game in Bergamo,” he said. “We know it’s not a smear infection that is transmitted by touching objects, but that close dancing and exuberant celebrations have led to infections.”
Despite the update from the CDC, the World Health Organization’s website still indicates that “COVID-19 spreads primarily through close contact with someone who is infected, but it can also spread if you touch contaminated objects and surfaces. You can protect yourself: clean your hands and your surroundings frequently!”