DEADLY coronavirus — which has killed at least 170 people — can be spread by touching contaminated surfaces, experts warn.
Cases of the killer virus have tripled in just three days — with the strain infecting more people in China than SARS did.
The outbreak has affected nearly 8,000 people across the world – with fears it could hit its peak in just 10 days.
Now, experts from the World Health Organisation (WHO) are warning that the virus can spread via objects or surfaces.
“There is evidence that the coronavirus can also be spread via fomites — when the virus survives on inanimate surfaces for a short period of time,” said Dr Maria Van Kerkhove, a member of the WHO’s emergency committee on the outbreak.
There is evidence that the coronavirus can also be spread via fomites — when the virus survives on inanimate surfaces for a short period of time
Dr Maria Van Kerkhove
It’s a potentially worrying revelation for hospitals, where patients diagnosed and treated for coronavirus may touch chairs, tables, beds, railings and much more.
Experts estimate victims will start suffering symptoms from two to 14 days after contracting the bug – however a small subset of cases suggests that it may be transmissible even before the patient starts to show signs of the virus.
During WHO’s Wednesday press conference, they emphasised that it’s “very difficult” to quantify how an infection spreads from patients to others.
Despite this additional indicator of pandemic potential, WHO has declined to declare a public health emergency of international concern.
Instead, global health officials praised the containment efforts made by China, but warned the disease is to be taken seriously worldwide.
After originating in the Asian country last month, coronavirus has since spread to over 6,000 people in more than a dozen countries.