Researchers from South Korea reported that a majority of the touchable surfaces in the hospital rooms of patients with Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) coronavirus were contaminated even after the patients had recovered from their illness, suggesting the need for stricter environmental disinfection practices to prevent the spread of disease in the hospital setting.

Viable virus was found up to 4 days after patient discharge, according to a Healio news report.

Results of their analysis suggested that most surfaces — including many frequently touched by patients and health care workers such as bedsheets, bedrails and IV fluid hangers — were contaminated by MERS CoV, even after patients’ respiratory specimens were PCR-negative.

The virus also was found in the air ventilation system located on the ceiling of the isolation rooms. In addition, researchers detected MERS on anteroom desks and floors, suggesting viable virus could potentially escape the isolation room and spread to the corridor via health care personnel and medical equipment.