How likely are you to catch COVID from a surface?


Experts have urged Queenslanders not to be worried about contracting COVID-19 from surfaces, but to continue to be vigilant, as South Australian authorities work to contain a cluster that was linked to a hotel room's surface infected with the virus.

It comes as South Australia enters its second day of a six-day lockdown in effort to contain a cluster that has so far infected 22 people.

No new cases were recorded yesterday in the state.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said it was always a possibility for COVID-19 to spread from surfaces, stressing the importance of washing hands with soap and water.

But she did not think the virus in Adelaide was a different strain, but rather a different sub-lineage.

"We can't really say whether this strain or sub-lineage is any more infectious or spreading any more rapidly till we've got a few more generations and we can look at it," she said.

Griffith University Institute for Glycomics Professor Johnson Mak said infection by leftover viruses on any surface was very rare.

"In order for one to catch the virus from a surface that has been contaminated, the dosage of virus left on the surface have to be very, very high to begin with, which is an unlikely event to begin with," he said.

He said humans touched their face, eyes and hair about 10 times per hour unconsciously.

"When we work in a lab where infectious agents are present … we ask people to not touch their face, their mask throughout the process," he said.



"Properly taking the mask off and having hair tied back are also important.

"All these precautions … are there because this virus … has a better chance to enter moist mucosal surfaces - such as those found in eyes, mouth, nose."

He said new vaccines would likely work against the new strain of the virus in South Australia, but current information indicated it could only better prevent severe diseases.

"Unless there is a vaccine that can block things 100 per cent, wearing a mask, social distancing, and hygiene are still the keys for our practical solution," he said.

University of Queensland infectious diseases associate professor Linda Selvey said a challenge of the latest Pfizer vaccine, is that it had not yet been trialled in elderly populations or people with chronic diseases.

"As these are the most vulnerable to the effects of COVID-19, they are an important target for the vaccine, and are likely to have a poorer immune response to the vaccine," she said.

"However, we don't know as this group hasn't been specifically targeted in the vaccine trials."

Health Minister Yvette D'Ath said everyone who had travelled from Adelaide to Queensland since November 9 had so far tested negative.





Originally published as Why SA alert doesn't change our health advice