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Sep 10, 2021
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The risk of contracting COVID-19 in a public toilet was minimal

Where did the data come from that there is an increased risk of transmission of the virus in toilets?

Last spring, American scientists announced that flushing water from a public toilet could contribute to the spread of the virus. This hypothesis seemed quite viable given that in some studies, SARS-Cov-2 particles were detected in urine and stool samples.

Experts conducted a series of tests in which they analyzed the spread of microbial aerosol droplets formed when flushing water in a toilet or urinal in a public toilet. It turned out that the drops “fly up” to a height of up to 1.5 meters within 20 seconds after pressing the flush button and enter the space even if the toilet lid is closed. Scientists have suggested that aerosol particles can escape through the gap between the lid and the toilet seat.

Another study from the UK showed that jet hand dryers can throw viral particles onto clothing with high airflow.

Ancha Baranova, professor at the GMU School of Systems Biology (USA), also warned that the toilet can be a “hotbed” of infection.

What the new review showed

Scientists from the Australian National University reviewed 38 studies from 13 countries published from 2000 to 2020. Scientific papers have evaluated the possibility of transmission of viruses and bacteria in a public toilet. Experts have considered several pathways for the spread of pathogens, including aerosol, fecal-oral and through contact with surfaces.

As it turns out, there is indeed a small risk of aerosols forming when flushing in the toilet and using automatic hand dryers, but in fact the likelihood of infection is extremely small.

“There have been only a few reported cases of infectious diseases, mainly associated with faecal-oral transmission, originating from toilets in restaurants. We found no evidence of airborne transmission of intestinal or respiratory pathogens, including COVID-19, in public toilets, ”the review authors wrote.

According to scientists, the whole point is that people usually do not linger in public toilets and do not contact each other. If you wash your hands thoroughly after using the restroom, do not eat food in stalls and do not talk on your cell phone, the risk of infection is unlikely, the researchers are convinced.


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