Despite this disparity, the patient whose room was sampled before cleaning contaminated 13 of 15 room sites tested, including a chair, the bed rail, a glass window, the floor, and light switches.
Three of the five toilet sites were also contaminated, including the sink, door handle and toilet bowl — more evidence that stool can be a route of transmission.
Air samples tested negative, but swabs taken from air exhaust outlets were positive — which suggests that virus-laden droplets may be carried by air flows and deposited on vents.
The two rooms that were tested after cleaning had no positive results.
“Significant environmental contamination by patients with SARS-CoV-2 through respiratory droplets and fecal shedding suggests the environment as a potential medium of transmission and supports the need for strict adherence to environmental and hand hygiene,” the authors wrote.
SARS-CoV-R is the official name of the pathogen.
The virus, which was first identified in China’s Hubei province in December, has now infected more than 95,000 people in 81 countries and territories, killing more than 3,200.
The World Health Organization said Wednesday the mortality rate among reported cases was 3.4 percent, revising upward previous estimates.
But there is likely significant underreporting around the world and the disease’s true lethality will only be better understood over time.