One-year monitoring SARS-CoV-2 RNA surface contamination in hospitals reveals no correlation with organic material and negative pressure as a limiting factor for contamination


Pereira-Gómez, Marianoel ; Arce, Rodrigo ; Ferla, Diego ; Simón, Diego ; Salazar, Cecilia ; Perbolianachis, Paula ; Costábile, Alicia ; Fajardo, Alvaro ; Aldunate, Fabián ; Nin, Nicolás ; Hurtado, Javier ; Iraola, Gregorio ; Moreno, Pilar ; Moratorio, Gonzalo
Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación

Understanding transmission routes of SARS-CoV-2 is crucial to establish effective interventions in healthcare institutions. Although the role of surface contamination in SARS-CoV-2 transmission has been controversial, fomites have been proposed as a contributing factor. Longitudinal studies about SARS-CoV-2 surface contamination in hospitals with different infrastructure (presence or absence of negative pressure systems) are needed to improve our understanding of their effectiveness on patient healthcare and to advance our knowledge about the viral spread. We performed a one-year longitudinal study to evaluate surface contamination with SARS-CoV-2 RNA in reference hospitals. These hospitals have to admit all COVID-19 patients from public health services that require hospitalization. Surfaces samples were molecular tested for SARS-CoV-2 RNA presence considering three factors: the dirtiness by measuring organic material, the circulation of a high transmissibility variant, and the presence or absence of negative pressure systems in hospitalized patients' rooms. Our results show that: (i) There is no correlation between the amount of organic material dirtiness and SARS-CoV-2 RNA detected on surfaces; (ii) SARS-CoV-2 high transmissible Gamma variant introduction significantly increased surface contamination; (iii) the hospital with negative pressure systems was associated with lower levels of SARS-CoV-2 surface contamination and, iv) most environmental samples recovered from contaminated surfaces were assigned as non-infectious. This study provides data gathered for one year about the surface contamination with SARS-CoV-2 RNA sampling hospital settings. Our results suggest that spatial dynamics of SARS-CoV-2 RNA contamination varies according with the type of SARS-CoV-2 genetic variant and the presence of negative pressure systems. In addition, we showed that there is no correlation between the amount of organic material dirtiness and the quantity of viral RNA detected in hospital settings. Our findings suggest that SARS CoV-2 RNA surface contamination monitoring might be useful for the understanding of SARS-CoV-2 dissemination with impact on hospital management and public health policies. This is of special relevance for the Latin-American region where ICU rooms with negative pressure are insufficient.

Ciencias Médicas y de la Salud
Medicina Clínica
Medicina Critica y de Emergencia
Agencia Nacional de Investigación e Innovación
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Reconocimiento 4.0 Internacional. (CC BY)