Are Toilets Involved in Spreading COVID-19?

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spreading COVID-19
Image- SuSanA Secretariat via Flickr

After months spent with an on-going pandemic, the control on new coronavirus cases still remains a highly desirable thing. From following social distancing to avoiding shaking hands with people, authorities are recommending not to make physical contact or even be close to someone as he may be spreading COVID-19 directly.

The role of toilets in spreading COVID-19 is something that not many people talk about yet it is one of the biggest sources to share the virus.

There is plenty of research that indicates coronavirus’s presence in human fecal samples and anal swabs implying that the virus is inside the urine and feces of an infected person. Many research groups are working on wastewater analysis to predict an outbreak by identifying these pathogens that are passed through toilets.

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One of the recent cases of a COVID-19 patient who got it from an airplane toilet has also grabbed everyone’s attention. And all this information suggests that coronavirus can spread through shared toilets. But how does it actually spread?

When an infected person uses a toilet, the flushing makes the water to aerosol some of the fecal matter which may also include a virus. These aerosols are suspended in the air and when another person uses the same toilet, they rest on him and infect him. But is this even possible? Scientists confirm that it is possible.

Surprisingly there is not much on how toilets spread any infectious disease. But there are some studies which confirm that they have the potential to spread it. For example, a study from 2018 on toilets reported having a high amount of bioaerosols especially when the toilet seat has no lid.

But what are the chances for coronavirus to land on a human host when there are millions of particles in the air? Obviously not all aerosols have coronavirus in them. But one thing that often people misunderstand is that when they flush the toilet after using they are actually breathing in the same air which may or may not contain coronavirus. So whatever the flush water adds to the air, virus, bacteria, fungi, or anything, it can enter inside the human body through the nasal cavity.

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There are also chances for these bioaerosols to spread and linger around. When they are in the air there are many things which can happen. For example; they can land on any nearby surfaces and in that case, wiping/cleaning the surfaces with any bleaching agent will kill it. They cay be filtered through the room filter and probably never cause disease but for that, a person should be using a high-quality filter.

There is also a possibility that the human body inhales them and in that case, they may cause respiratory diseases like COVID-19.

Interestingly, there were no clear instructions about avoiding using a public toilet or shared toilet to avoid contracting the virus. But with these new probabilities of spreading COVID-19, the medical experts believe people should be educated on how this simple and apparently harmless thing can give them COVID-19.

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