Coronavirus and COVID 19 Pandemic

Focus on Fomites to Stop Covid-19

Last updated on October 20th, 2022 at 07:42 am

Fomites are objects or surfaces that may be contaminated by viruses such as SARS-CoV-2. It can spread the virus if they come into contact with mucous membranes or broken skin.

Fomites are an important source of infection during the coronavirus pandemic. Cleaning everything properly can help stop the spread of the disease.

What is Fomite?

Fomites are objects where pathogens like novel coronavirus settle for hours. Touching them with your hands and then touching nose, eyes or mouth may make you a Covid-19 patient.

Focus on Fomites to Stop Covid-19

Country lockdown is not a guarantee that a person will not get the virus. You may believe that social distancing is enough, but it is not.

Fomites can become the agent provocateur, spreading Covid-19 during lockdown. Fomites, epidemiologists use this term widely, are objects that carry infection. Anything including clothes, utensils, newspapers, mobile phones, front-desk of a shop, packaged items, ATMs and debit/credit cards, and even doorknobs, buttons in a lift, hand-rest of an escalator and furniture can be fomites.

In the previous coronavirus epidemic, SARS of 2002, fomites were a major contributor in Hong Kong, where the disease broke out. Since fomites are inanimate objects and cannot move on their own, humans have to come in their contact to get the virus.

Risk posed by fomites depends on how long does novel coronavirus or any other pathogen survives on these objects.

How to Stop Coronavirus?

As novel coronavirus, now officially named as SARS-CoV-2, is a new virus to humans, studies are still underway to know everything about it. What studies have found till date is that novel coronavirus has a different life span on different objects. On plastic and steel, novel coronavirus has been found to stay virulent up to 72 hours or three days. However, their ability to infect decreases significantly as hours pass by. The problem is plastic and steel make up for far too many objects of everyday use. This means frequent cleaning of objects such as doorknobs, elevator buttons, window pans, front-desks of shops. Is a have to fight Covid-19 effectively. Detergent or disinfectant is to be used for cleaning.

On a cardboard, novel coronavirus survives for up to 12 hours. This means if you order something, leave that package for 12 hours before opening the box. Or sanitise it with an alcohol-based sanitiser.

This is exactly what you should do with your newspaper. The hawkers have more chances than others of catching the virus and passing the same on to newspaper surfaces, which are potential fomites when you touch early in the morning.

Going out is mostly restricted except for essential work and services in a lockdown. But if you have to go out, make sure you don’t carry fomites to your workplace or bring fomites back home.

Remember, you cannot also afford to become fomites yourself. For that, cover your head with disposable caps.

Take a packet of milk as an example. You buy it from a milk parlor or a grocery store. Don’t touch any surface there. Don’t come within sneezing distance of any person. Come home and clean the door knob with detergent or sanitiser. Change your clothes. Wash these clothes in detergent. Take a bath using soap. Also, clean the milk packet in a detergent solution before you or anyone else in the family opens it. This is to be repeated for everything that you bring or somebody else delivers on your doorstep.

How is Coronavirus Spread?

Sanitise anything and everything that you use outside. This will keep you indoors in a fomites-free zone.


But before we go, a factual reminder that no place on the earth is free from viruses and bacteria. The ongoing fight is against the newest member of human viruses. This is relatively unknown and extremely virile, so it is more dangerous.

Here the strategy is to ensure that novel coronavirus does not get enough fomites to hide and hunt.

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