When the pandemic began in March 2020, there was a great deal of concern about COVID-19 spreading on surfaces.

Everyone was being encouraged to constantly wash their hands or use hand sanitizer. Deep cleaning was recommended in offices, especially in high touch areas.

Those concerns faded after several months. But now, with the Delta variant surging, they have resurfaced.

Rutgers University infectious disease expert and epidemiologist Dr. Stanley H. Weiss said with the original strain of COVID it turned out only a tiny fraction of viral transmissions were being caused by touching surfaces.

“With the Delta variant I’m concerned things could have changed and we have no information now about whether that poses a risk," Weiss said.

He stressed no one is sure yet but there is a suspicion the Delta variant does pose a surface touch transmission risk because “we know in the nasal pharynges that the average level of virus is a thousand times higher than with the original Wuhan strain.”

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Weiss said we know viruses like influenza can survive for some time on surfaces but it is not clear yet how much of a surface risk the Delta form of COVID may pose.

He said until we know more, after visiting a supermarket or any other inside location, hand sanitizer is recommended. But when you first enter these places you should make sure you’re wearing a well-fitted mask.

“You shouldn’t be able to touch your nose or your mouth, and you need to be cautious and not touch your eyes,” he said.

Dr. Weiss added because the amount of virus being expelled is so much higher with the Delta variant “I now continue to encourage deep cleansing, and for people to disinfect their hands as an additional precautionary measure.”

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