The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is now stressing that people cannot catch the coronavirus easily by touching surfaces or objects. Initially, it was reported that the virus could stay alive on the surface but that this was not the main way it can be transmitted. The organization has updated its website for more accurate information regarding the virus, CNet reports.

According to its site, "it may be possible that a person can get COVID-19 by touching a surface or object that has the virus on it and then touching their own mouth, nose or possibly their eyes." But now, CDC's site says, "this is not thought to be the main way the virus spreads, but we are still learning more about this virus."

Furthermore, they also said that coronavirus does not easily spread from people to animals and animals to people although they are aware of reports that a small number of pets around the world, such as dogs and cats, are getting infected with SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.

CDC did not respond immediately to requests for comment on whether a new study prompted the change on its website or not. But on Thursday, CDC spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund told The Washington Post that the changes made in the website were due to an internal review and "usability testing."

Viral transmission

According to Nordlund, the mode of transmission of coronavirus has not changed. COVID-19 still spreads through close contact from one person to another. The virus still travels as droplets when a person talks, coughs or sneezes, the CDC website says.

Moreover, the website also said that close contact is defined as being within the six feet reach, the distance at which sneeze flings large droplets. A person may also be infected but does not show any symptoms or feel sick, and they can already spread the microscopic virus.

Reports have shown the virus' affinity to density. Many nursing homes, prisons, cruise ships have been reported to have high numbers of cases because people are working in proximity. CDC even described how the choir practice in Washington in March became a super-spreader event that infected 52 other people from one sick person.

Indeed, direct contact with people has the highest likelihood of getting infected, rather than accepting things from other people or touching surfaces, according to Vincent Munster, a virologist and researcher in the virus ecology section at Rocky Mountain Laboratories, one of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases facility located in Hamilton, Mont.

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Sudden Change in CDC's Website

Angela L. Rasmussen, a virologist at the Columbia University Mailman School of Public Health, has expressed her concerns regarding CDC's changes in its website without any formal announcement or explanation.

According to her, a persistent problem during this pandemic is the lack of clear information from governmental leadership, and the change on the website is another example of that. "It could even have a detrimental effect on hand hygiene and encourage complacency about physical distancing or other measures," Rasmussen said.

Furthermore, Rasmussen said that the new CDC language would not alter her habits of washing her hands after handling packages and wiping down shared surfaces with household disinfectant. She stressed that if people are comfortable in wiping their mail or wiping down plastic packaging, there is no harm in doing that as long as they do not wipe down food with disinfectant.

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