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Swab tests reveal high levels of coronavirus on gym door handles and self check-out stations

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Why you MUST wash your hands after working out or shopping: Gym door handles and self check-out stations are covered in coronavirus but gas pumps are nearly virus-free, swab tests show

  • Swab tests were conducted on 16 high-touch surfaces including gas pumps, door handles, shopping carts, credit card machines and check-out screens 
  • Results from gas station pumps and bathroom stall locks revealed low levels, which experts say likely means bits of viral RNA were left behind after cleaning
  • Two surfaces – the entry door handle to a local gym and a self check-out station at at a local  hardware store – showed high levels of the virus
  • Experts say high levels mean there are either infected people within a build or more stringent cleaning protocols are needed

By Mary Kekatos Senior Health Reporter For Dailymail.com

Published: | Updated:

New swab tests have revealed that the novel coronavirus can be found lurking on several high-touch surfaces. 

An investigation by CBS13 tested several surfaces including gas stations pumps, a door handle to a public gym and self-checkout screens.

Some areas picked up low levels of the virus, meaning the genetic material of the virus was still there, but not infectious enough to make anybody sick.

However, others had high levels, which could indicate that there are infected people in the building or that certain areas need better cleaning.

Swab tests, from Enviral Tech (above), were performed at 16 high-touch surfaces including gas pumps, door handles, shopping carts, credit card machines and check-out screens

Results from gas station pumps (pictured) and bathroom stall locks revealed low levels of the virus, which experts say likely means bits of viral RNA were left behind after cleaning

Two surfaces – the entry door handle to a local gym and a self check-out station at at a local hardware store (pictured) – showed high levels of the virus

COVID-19 mainly spreads through the air, when an infected person expels respiratory droplets that are then inhaled by a healthy person.

Experts say it is theoretically possible to contract the virus from high-touch surfaces, but highly unlikely.

Dr Shula Jaron, the CEO of Enviral Tech – which made the tests used by CBS13 – told the local station that the surface tests are more indicative of how widespread the virus is in a community.  

She said a test that detects coronavirus on a surface can indicate they are infected people in a building or that more stringent cleaning protocols are needed. 

‘Which really is an indicator that they’re probably not taking a lot of precautions with infection control,’ Jaron said.

Jaron added that the company primarily gives tests to businesses such as long-term care facilities, where routine testing for every resident can be high-priced.

‘It is less expensive to test the environment,’ she told CBS13.

‘Rather than testing 100 individuals that come into your facility, you’re testing just a couple of locations.’

The kits from Enviral Tech contain either four or eight swabs, which generally retail for around $300.

The swabs come in glass cylinders with directions for how to take a sample and label it, and results are returned within 24 hours. 

CBS13 swabbed 16 high-touch surfaces including the handle of a shopping cart, a gas station pump, a bathroom stall lock, credit card keypads, a self-touch screen at a hardware store and doors handles to a local gym and a coffee shop. 

The gas pump and bathroom stall lock returned very low results, which likely means bits of viral RNA remained behind after cleaning. 

However, results for two surfaces – the entry door handle to the gym and the self check-out station at the hardware store – came back showing high levels of the virus.

A different check=out station at the same store did not return similar results. 

Dr Phillip Norris, an infectious disease expert at the University of California San Francisco, told CBS13 that, although the risk of catching COVID-19 from a screen is low, it is a sign that cleaning standards need improvement.

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