Study points to possible new path of coronavirus transmission

Chinese researchers have found the coronavirus that has set off a global panic in the feces and anus tissue samples of infected patients, which could suggest another way the virus is being transmitted.

Iran (IMNA) - A joint study by Wuhan University Renmin Hospital and Chinese Academy of Sciences revealed that nucleic acid tests of those samples came back positive for the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), online news services run by the Chinese News Service reported Sunday.

The finding suggested the virus could possibly be spread through "feces-to-mouth" transmission, in addition to transmission through droplets or direct physical contact, the report said, citing the study's results presented at a press briefing in Shenzhen on Saturday.

Chang Ko (張科), head of the infection control division of Kaohsiung Municipal Siaogang Hospital, told CNA on Sunday that the Chinese result was not surprising given that American researchers had already found coronavirus residue in feces.

He cited a study published in the New England Journal of Medicine on Jan. 31 that said the stool sample taken from the first person confirmed in the United States to be infected with the coronavirus tested positive for the virus.

According to Shih Shin-ru (施信如), head of the Research Center for Emerging Viral Infections at Chang Gung University, the findings suggest preventing the virus from spreading has gotten more challenging because there is another way it can be transmitted.

Experts in Taiwan are advising people to flush toilets with the lid on and wash their hands thoroughly after going to the bathroom to limit the risk of infection now that it has been found to be transmitted through feces.

Hwang Kao-pin (黃高彬), director of the Division of Pediatric Infectious Diseases at Taichung-based China Medical University, said it was not uncommon to find viruses in stool, but warned that the new finding still needed to be taken seriously.

The new transmission path could pose a threat, the physician said, because if infected stool is splashed by water out of a toilet, the virus it carries could live for 2-3 hours in the air and up to five days on the surface of an object.

To lower the infection risk, toilets should be disinfected with alcohol before they are used and flushed with their lids on, Hwang said, also stressing that washing hands with soap was critical to preventing disease.


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