Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus (Director-General of the World Health Organization)

The WHO finally clarifies whether Coronavirus is spread by contact with surfaces

A supposed study was circulating recently in which the WHO says that the virus is not transmitted by objects

Among the conspiracy theories and the different hoaxes that have circulated these weeks about Coronavirus, one of the most influential has been  the supposed statement by the World Health Organization (WHO) that COVID-19 is not transmitted by contact with surfaces.

In fact, this was one of the first doubts that appeared with the arrival of the pandemic: Can the coronavirus be transmitted by contact with surfaces? From the first moment, the answer was affirmative, and even several studies were published on the length of time that the pathogen can survive on various types of surfaces such as steel, ceramics or wood.

However, a recent hoax tries to create confusion with the claim that the WHO has published a study according to which it finds no evidence of the spread of Coronavirus by contact with objects, which the organization itself has just denied. 

The news began to gain momentum with the publication in a major news agency according to which the WHO assures that the virus is not transmitted that way. A priori it was surprising because in science it is usually said that "there is no proof that...", but not that "there is proof that it does not...". However, the news was greeted with credulity.

Now, some experts draw attention to several inconsistencies in that news and end up denying it because of the importance of the nuances. What the WHO says is that it finds no evidence that Coronavirus is transmitted through objects and surfaces, because such research has not been done directly.

The WHO does advise disinfection

The source on which the news is based is neither a scientific study nor a report, but a guideline document published on 15 May by the WHO and entitled "Cleaning and disinfection of environmental surfaces in the context of COVID-19". Its purpose is to provide guidance on procedures for cleaning and disinfecting surfaces to control the spread.

Far from providing new data, it merely recalls what has been published in previous cases, concluding that "at the time of this publication, the virus transmission has not been conclusively linked to contaminated environmental surfaces in available studies".

The following five pages on recommendations for surface disinfection is proof that there is evidence of such a way of transmission, which leads the WHO to advise cleaning and disinfection of surfaces "especially where patients of COVID-19 are treated".

The news also said that the WHO denies studies that showed that the virus survives 4 hours in copper, 1 day in cloth, wood and cardboard, 2 days in glass and 4 days in stainless steel. But the organization was not so blunt, but only warned that the results should be interpreted with caution in a real environment.

[This is a translation of the original article "La OMS aclara por fin si el coronavirus se contagia por el contacto con superficies" published in espanadiario.net]