The new coronavirus responsible for respiratory disease COVID-19 can be transmitted from person to person in case of close contact with an infected person. We discuss this with Dr. Michele Lagioia, Medical Director of Humanitas.

According to the definition of the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control (ECDC) close contact means:

  • Situations in which one finds oneself “face to face” or in the same closed environment with a suspected or confirmed case of COVID-19
  • Healthcare professionals or caregivers assisting suspected or confirmed cases of patients with COVID-19 or laboratory staff handling SARS-CoV-2 samples
  • Traveling by air in the same row or two rows before or after a suspected or confirmed case.

The main transmission mode

The main mode of transmission is represented by the droplets of breath that can pass from one person to another through a sneeze, cough and direct personal contact, but also through the hands that if not washed can be contaminated and transmit the virus to others through simple contact (think of a common handshake: if the infected person has contaminated hands can transfer the virus to the hands of the other who can, in turn, become infected by bringing a hand to the mouth, eyes or nose).

It is therefore essential, and this is generally true when you have a cold or flu, to sneeze and cough in a tissue or by covering your mouth and nose with the elbow socket. It is also important to throw away used tissues immediately after use and wash your hands often and thoroughly with soap and water for at least 20 seconds (or with a 60% alcohol-based hand sanitizer) and in any case always after sneezing, coughing or blowing your nose.

The incubation period between infection and the onset of symptoms is estimated to last 2 to 11 days, up to a maximum of 14 days.

Can touching bus or subway handles cause infection?

In light of the available data, this mode of infection is considered highly unlikely. In any case, you should wash your hands thoroughly after touching dirty surfaces and objects and avoid bringing your hands to your face, eyes or mouth.

Can goods or products imported from China carry the virus?

No, the coronavirus does not last long on surfaces, so packages and objects imported from China cannot cause coronavirus infection.

Do pets (cats, dogs) transmit the coronavirus?

There is no scientific evidence that pets can contract and transmit the coronavirus. In any case, it is always advisable to wash your hands after touching animals.