No Covid-19 on the Tube According to Imperial College Study

Testing of surfaces shows virus not present


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There is no evidence of Covid-19 on the Tube network, an Imperial College study has suggested.

While coronavirus is often passed directly from person to person, it can also be picked up from contaminated surfaces – with busy spaces like the Underground a particular problem.

But 24 samples collected by scientists at Vauxhall, Pimlico and Victoria stations last month were all negative.

Researchers tested touch points at the stations and in the air as part of a bigger project of bacteria and funghi in cities internationally – and Transport for London (TfL) is now considering further research.

The length of time the virus can survive on a surface varies according to light, temperature and humidity, according to Public Health England.

The risk is likely to have fallen sharply within 24 hrs and much further within two days.

But during the pandemic, TfL has introduced a more intensive cleaning regime, using the same virus-killing spray as in hospitals, which provides up to a month of protection.

Busy parts of the network are cleaned more often, including during the day, and any surfaces that are likely to be touched by commuters are disinfected daily.

The transport network is also trialling an ultraviolet light cleaner on escalator handrails – using a man-made version of the rays of sunlight that cause skin burns to break down dirt and grime.

The device sits on the handrail, and uses the motion of the escalator to power the bulb.

As lockdown restrictions are rolled back, more commuters are returning to Tube trains and buses – and TfL has gradually reopened stations that were shut at the peak of the virus.

Today incoming network chief Andy Byford watched cleaning at Southwark, on the Jubilee line, ahead of the station reopening on Monday (13 July).

Crowded tube during coronavirus outbreak
Crowded tube during coronavirus outbreak

Hyde Park Corner, Arsenal, Kilburn Park, Swiss Cottage, Clapham South and Hampstead will also open their doors to passengers from the start of next week.

“As customers continue to return in greater numbers as pandemic restrictions are gradually eased, there are some simple steps that everyone can take to ensure they stay safe,” Mr Byford said.

“This includes travelling at quieter times, regular hand cleaning and staying alert to the latest Government advice.

“We all want London to continue to get back on its feet, and TfL is fully focussed on supporting this as we strive to make sure that customers and staff are safe.”

Jessie Matthewson - Local Democracy Reporter

July 10, 2020