New scientific data shows that Covid-19 is more easily spread by people and through the air, not from surfaces. (Bernama pic)

PETALING JAYA: Government officials have been urged not to waste time and resources carrying out sanitisation of buildings and public areas. A health think-tank says scientific data show that cases of Covid-19 infections from surfaces are extremely rare.

“Studies show that contaminated surfaces do not contribute substantially to new infections,” said Azrul Mohd Khalib, chief executive of the Galen Centre for Health and Social Policy.

“There is no need to carry out indoor or outdoor sanitisation,” he said, adding that it is also costly and time-consuming, with very little to show for it.

These resources should go into focusing on wearing masks, and providing guidelines on how to improve ventilation. “Singapore has recently done this,” he added.

He said transmission through the air via aerosols was a far more important factor. It would be better to improve indoor ventilation and air circulation or instal air purifiers rather than clean and disinfect surfaces.

Large-scale disinfections were announced recently by housing minister Zuraida Kamaruddin who said the effort would focus on Selangor which has continued to record the highest number of new daily Covid-19 cases.

She said 25,252 sanitisation operations have been implemented at 156 zones since March last year.

Azrul said while cleanliness and hygiene remain crucial but “an exaggerated risk of transmission of Covid-19 by inanimate surfaces or objects still remains.

The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said last month that it had changed its views and now held that surface transmission was a less significant mode of transmission than person-to-person transmission.

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Last year, early in the pandemic, popular sentiment believed that surface transmission of Covid-19 was one of the primary vectors of transmission.

Azrul said studies had shown that it is hard to even culture the SARS-CoV2 virus from contaminated surfaces in hospitals, much less transmit the infection to a human being.

Former health deputy minister Dr Lee Boon Chye urged Putrajaya to deploy additional manpower at vaccination centres instead; more manpower was needed for contact tracing, vaccination registration and crowd control.

“The government should not waste manpower and resources on unnecessary work,” he added.

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