Should I nevertheless be thorough cleaning surfaces – and your other Covid questi…

It is hard to believe now, but in early January two years ago, the world was effectively unaware of Covid-19.   

In fact, Chinese scientists had only just revealed the “mystery pneumonia” situations in Wuhan were caused by a novel coronavirus.   

We’ve all come a long way since then, and so has the science around this new infection.    

But lots of questions keep about how to best protect yourself and your family. The Telegraph’s global health team answers some of them below, including questions sent in to us by you.   

Should I nevertheless be cleaning surfaces forensically? 

In short, yes. But not for the reason you think.   

Cleaning surfaces and washing hands will always be an important component of infection prevention control. But it may well be more important for preventing other diseases – like MRSA, E coli, or norovirus – than Covid-19.   

For coronavirus, many experts now believe that the air we breathe may well be the meaningful routes of transmission, which explains why disguise-wearing and a focus on ventilation have become the watchwords.    

And what about wiping down groceries? 

Early on in the pandemic, lots of people wiped down their shopping or post, or already “quarantined” it in the garage or in other places, to avoid infection.

This approach was not without its merits when dealing with what, at the time, was effectively an unknown enemy. Nearly two years in, the situation is slightly different: we know that close contact, droplet and airborne transmission routes are the main ways the virus transmits, instead of being carried on surfaces. In fact, the World Health Organization says that while this route is possible, there is as in addition no proven evidence of it causing an infection. 

However, if your personal circumstances make you worried about any possible infection, steps like this will not do any harm, although washing your hands after handling any packaging may be a simpler infection control measure.

What does a faint red line on a lateral flow test average? 

The rise of omicron – the very infectious new variant – has brought the lateral flow test (LFT) to the fore.   

These cheap, quick, at-home tests are far easier to acquire and course of action than lab-run PCRs, and recently the government already ruled that a positive consequence on an LFT for an asymptomatic person is enough to confirm infection and start self-isolating.   

But how to read them has raised some questions: for example, what does a faint red line average?   

Bad news, unfortunately: experts say that any sign of a red line at all indicates a likely infection. So to be on the safe side, for any inconclusive results, it is best to take another confirmatory test and isolate until you are more certain. 

“It may suggest that either you are just getting infectious, or you are getting closed to the end of your infectious period,” said Irene Petersen, a professor of epidemiology and health informatics at University College London. “But please consider it as a positive consequence and stay at home.”

In terms of timing, experts say LFTs are a good indication of whether you are infectious or not. But the onset period can be short – if you do a test in the morning, it’s possible to be positive and infectious by the end of the day. With this in mind, and while rates are so high, scientists have stressed the need to “flow right before you go”.   

Click: See details

Leave a Reply