ANU research finds no evidence COVID-19 has been transmitted in public toilets

ANU research shows no evidence COVID-19 has been trasmitted in public toilets. Picture: Leanne Pickett
ANU research shows no evidence COVID-19 has been trasmitted in public toilets. Picture: Leanne Pickett

There is no evidence COVID-19 has been transmitted in public bathrooms, according to new research.

Research conducted by the Australian National University and funded by Dyson found no cases of a person becoming infected while using a public bathroom.

ANU Professor Sotiris Vardoulakis said research, analysing studies from around the world during the first year of the pandemic, showed the risk of transmission in was miniscule if proper hygiene was maintained.

"We scrutinised many studies and we didn't find any evidence that our transmission of COVID-19 has actually taken place in public toilets," he told The Canberra Times.

"We found the risk is very low if people keep good hygiene, hand washing, drying their hands properly, and of course if the public toilets are ventilated."

The review looked into multiple forms of transmission - airborne inhalation, surface contact, and faecal-oral routes - between 2000 and 2020.

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While COVID-19 had been detected in public bathroom surfaces, particularly in hospitals, the research found no instance had led to an infection.

The study found bathrooms were low-risk partly because people typically spent limited time in them, and reduced interaction while using them. But it warned defective plumbing may increase the chance of transmission.

Anecdotal evidence showed people were concerned about using public toilets during the pandemic, Professor Vardoulakis said.

"They're very cautious or they try to avoid it at all costs. We realised that might be an issue, so that was the motivation for the study," he said.

Professor Vardoulakis insisted the findings should not lead to complacency.

"Given the current circumstances ... we need to follow the local advice, whether they're lockdown restrictions or instructions to wear face masks," he said.

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This story 'No evidence' of COVID public toilet transfer first appeared on The Canberra Times.

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