Cleanliness may provide 'false hope' when combating COVID-19, doctor says

SAN FRANCISCO (KGO) -- It seems there is more of a focus on sanitation and wiping down surfaces as opposed to ways people can effectively combat COVID-19.

We asked ABC7 Special Correspondent Dr. Alok Patel if there seems to be more of a focus on cleaning things. Companies are putting out advertisements on how they're committed to cleanliness.

"There's like a false hope that businesses are sending out. Like 'Oh my gosh, we cleaned every single day, therefore, you can come here and never get coronavirus,' when we know that's not true," Dr. Patel said.

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Dr. Patel said there seems to be a fixation on reports that the virus can survive on surfaces, which is why everyone is concerned about their food packages or mail, but that's not the primary way people will catch it.

"One thing we have to remember is the primary way you're going to catch this is not from surfaces, it's going to be from airborne transmission, it's going to be from droplets, it's going to be the people next to you- not the surfaces," Dr. Patel said.

Dr. Patel says we need to continue focusing on blocking person to person transmission.

"Unfortunately given that cases are rising everywhere, we have to assume people around us could be contagious. If you look at clusters right now, where outbreaks are happening, the overwhelming majority of them are going to be traced something related to person-to-person transmission," Dr. Patel said.

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Doctor Lily Chen, a Biology Professor at San Francisco State University, said she won't bring her mask inside her home, and will leave it in the sun for long periods of time.

"I don't bring it into the home because the mask already has some exposure to outside environment, I just kind of put it on top of the (car) hood facing the sun and just leave it there for a couple of hours," Dr. Chen said.

She said as a microbiologist, she used to do virus research.

"For example under some kind of UV ray, in three minutes we can kill the bacteria. It looks like more studies needs to be done but it's also kind of sensitive to UV radiation. Just think about we have the best UV light outside. Under my own security, I feel like somehow

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I kind of inactivated or dried up a little bit. But again washing your mask is still the best way to clean," Dr. Chen said.

Ultimately, physically distancing, washing your hands and wearing a mask are behaviors we should be focusing on.

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