Flushing the toilet can spread coronavirus, new study finds
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As the blockade is loosened, more and more public spaces open up. It is nice to feel a slight hint of normalcy return, but there is a somewhat inevitable problem that prevents us from spending long periods outside our homes: the lack of public toilets that are open.
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While some public toilets may be available, they remain largely closed. And while scientific experts are looking for ways to work around this, a new study suggests that shared toilets could pose a potential risk for the spread of coronaviruses.
The study, published this week in the Physics of Fluids magazine, found that flushing a person with coronavirus (for number two) can create a cloud of infected aerosol that lingers in the ambient air.
When the next person enters the cabin, there is concern that they may inhale these invisible droplets and infect themselves. Alternatively, the droplets can land on surfaces in the toilet cubicle, where we know that the virus can survive for several hours. If these surfaces are touched and the person unconsciously touches their eyes, nose or mouth, the infection can be absorbed.
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You may be thinking about it: How in the world can a person's poo transmit the coronavirus if it's a respiratory virus? The answer is: It is known that human corona viruses (the specific group of viruses to which COVID-19 belongs) are characterized by fecal-oral transmission. "It can be concluded that the transmission of feces and mouth is not a unique feature of the currently angry SARS-CoV-2, but a common transmission channel for most viruses," says the new study.
In reality, "fecal-oral transmission" means that pathogens in fecal particles (fecal particles) get from one person to another person's mouth, which is generally due to poor hygiene and poor hygiene practices. However, the flushing mechanism of the toilet also plays a role in the transfer of stool and mouth, as research has shown that between 40% and 60% of the particles rose above the toilet seat "to cause it to spread".
It was found that the particles - which could contain an infection if a confirmed COVID-19 case had feces in the toilet - reached a height of 106.5 cm above the floor (almost 3.5 feet).
The researchers concluded: "According to the characteristics of fecal-oral transmission, a large amount of viruses will be present in a toilet if a confirmed case uses them, so toilets should be considered one of the sources of infection."
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This makes sense when you consider that some coronavirus patients are known to have gastrointestinal symptoms such as diarrhea. The researchers suspect that this is because the virus can survive in the digestive tract.
The study's authors wanted to assure you that this should not prevent you from using a toilet other than your own. The newspaper pointed out that "toilets are a daily necessity" that are only dangerous when the corona virus spreads "when used improperly". The experts then proposed a number of precautions that could help prevent the spread of COVID-19 in the following ways:
Put the toilet lid on before flushing, which can basically prevent the transmission of viruses.
Clean the toilet seat before use, as floating virus particles may have deposited on the surface.
Wash your hands carefully after rinsing as there may be virus particles on the rinse button and door handle.
The information in this story is correct at the time of publication. As we try to keep our content as current as possible, the situation surrounding the coronavirus pandemic continues to develop rapidly, and some information and recommendations may have changed since its release. For concerns and current advice, visit the World Health Organization. If you're in the UK, the National Health Service can also provide useful information and support, while U.S. users can contact the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
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