Killer coronavirus could be spread through the EYES: Chinese doctor says he caught the SARS-like infection because he wasn’t wearing protective goggles
- Chinese doctor Wang Guangfa fears he may have contracted SARS-like infection
- Leading experts said possible to enter eyes if infected patient touches their eye
- Coronavirus has killed 26 patients and infected more than 900 in three weeks
By VANESSA CHALMERS HEALTH REPORTER FOR MAILONLINE and STEPHEN MATTHEWS HEALTH EDITOR FOR MAILONLINE
The killer coronavirus rapidly sweeping the world could be caught through the eyes, scientists have today warned.
Chinese doctor Wang Guangfa fears he may have contracted the SARS-like infection because he wasn’t wearing protective goggles.
Leading experts confirmed it is ‘absolutely possible’, saying the virus can enter the eyes by touching them – if it is on a patient’s hands.
And they even warned the virus – thought to be spread through sneezes and coughs – can roam through the body to reach the eye.
Twenty-six patients have died in the coronavirus outbreak in China, which has struck down more than 900 people and spread as far as the US.
Wang Guangfa has been infected with the new virus in China after being part of a team of doctors investigating it in Wuhan, where the virus emerged
Dr Guangfa heads the department of pulmonary medicine at Beijing’s Peking University First Hospital (pictured)
Chinese authorities say 26 people have died and now more than 900 people caught the killer infection across the world, with cases cropping up in the US, Vietnam and Singapore
Paul Kellam, professor of virus genomics at Imperial College London, said this is ‘absolutely possible’.
‘If you have droplets sneezed at you, they will wash from your nose to your eye,’ he told MailOnline. ‘Your eye connects to your nose through the lacrimal duct.
‘If you suffer from allergies and if your eyes run, so will your nose. Or if you put medication in your eyes, you’ll taste at the back of your throat.
‘It isn’t unusual for flu and other viruses to be transmitted this way. You can also get respiratory infections through the eye.’
Professor Kellam said it is for this reason healthcare workers must wear eye protection.
And even though face masks that protect the mouth and nose are effective, they clearly ‘won’t protect the eyes’.
Leading experts have today confirmed it is ‘absolutely possible’ it could be spread through the eyes, saying the virus can enter the eyes by touching them – if it is on a patient’s hands
And they even warned the virus – thought to be spread through sneezes and coughs – can roam through the body to reach the eye
Dr Michael Head, senior research fellow in global health at the University of Southampton, backed up Professor Kellam’s claim.
He told MailOnline: ‘Transmission would potentially be by touching the eye so the virus is on the hand, which then makes it easy to spread from one person to another.
‘Think of it like the common cold or the flu, touching nose/mouth/eyes is a way to spread them.’
Dr Guangfa heads the department of pulmonary medicine at Beijing’s Peking University First Hospital.
He was part of a team of experts that earlier this month visited Wuhan, where the virus first emerged.
‘I was diagnosed and my condition is fine,’ he told Kong’s Cable TV on Tuesday. He said he was going to receive an injection – but did offer any more details.