Even a year after Coronavirus was declared a pandemic, a lot of myths and misconceptions still persist regarding the spread of the virus. Scientists are always trying to debunk or verify all of the notions surrounding the virus—one such misconception has been debunked in London. Could a person riding the London Underground (metro) catch it from the station’s surface? As it turns out, possibly not. A team of scientists have declared they could find no traces of the virus after months of surveying.
A team from Imperial College London spent the last four months collecting samples from the underground rail system. They swabbed surfaces of the station, as well as from inside the train coaches. They also swapped London buses along with collecting ‘air samples’ from the enclosed underground railway.
“We try to represent what people are exposed to if they're travelling around,” said Dr David Green from the institute. The team worked closely with the staff from Transport for London (TfL). TfL said the result is quite “encouraging” for passengers who need to use public transport as they can do so without any fear. However, it should be noted that London has lockdown rules, which require people to have permission to travel publicly.
“Gradually as we've moved on we've understood only through super-spreader events that lots of transmissions are occurring through droplets and aerosols,” they said.
As a result which they call “reassuring,” no trace of the original Coronavirus (SARS CoV-2) or any of its mutated variants have been found in the test results. The genetic test was to locate ribonucleic acid (RNA) sequence which is specific to SARS CoV-2 and never found.
Swabs collection included surfaces that would be touched regularly; this includes card readers, ticket dispensers, escalator/stair handrails, elevator buttons, and so on.
They focused mostly on Central London which sees most of the journeys originate or terminate here. The absence of the virus from frequently used surfaces is being attributed to the strict hygiene standards (cleaning surfaces with disinfectant, regular mask use) maintained by the TfL staff.
However, Daily Mail reports that TfL workers are still at high-risk for Coronavirus infection. Nearly 57 staff members have been killed so far and many remain ill.