Fomites are objects or materials which are likely to carry infection, such as clothes, utensils, toys and furniture. Infection of a fomite occurs when an infected person sneezes, coughs or breathes, Their respiratory secretions or droplets containing the virus land on these surfaces or objects. Transmission happens when non-infected people touch contaminated surfaces and then touch their eyes, nose, or mouth allowing the virus to enter their body and cause possible infection.
With COVID-19, viable SARS-CoV-2 virus and/or RNA detected by RT-PCR can be found on surfaces for periods ranging from hours to days, depending on the ambient environment (including temperature and humidity) and the type of surface, in particular at high concentration in health care facilities where COVID-19 patients are being treated. Therefore, the transmission may occur indirectly through touching surfaces in the immediate environment or objects contaminated with virus from an infected person (e.g. stethoscope or thermometer), followed by touching the mouth, nose, or eyes.
Despite consistent evidence as to SARS-CoV-2 contamination of surfaces and the survival of the virus on certain surfaces, there are no specific reports which have directly demonstrated fomite transmission. People who come into contact with potentially infectious surfaces often also have close contact with the infectious person, making the distinction between the respiratory droplet and fomite transmission difficult to discern. However, fomite transmission is considered a likely mode of transmission for SARS-CoV-2, given consistent findings of environmental contamination in the vicinity of infected cases and the fact that other coronaviruses and respiratory viruses can transmit this way.
Although the consensus is that the main route of SARS-CoV-2 infection is via droplet transmission, it is still strongly advised that people continue to wash their hands with soap or sanitiser after touching potentially contaminated fomites.
Infectious Disease Prevention Transmission