Coronaviruses are a large family of viruses with some causing less severe disease, such as the common cold, and others causing more severe disease, such as the Middle East respiratory syndrome (MERS) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS) coronaviruses.

People showing symptoms of the deadly coronavirus could have their stool tested as an alternative screening tool to deep throat saliva, Chinese University of Hong Kong experts say, after their study confirmed Covid-19 can be transmitted through feces.

SARS-CoV-2 is primarily transmitted between people through respiratory (droplet and aerosol) and contact routes. Transmission risk is highest where people are close (within 2 meters). Airborne transmission can occur in health and care settings in which procedures or support treatments that generate aerosols are performed. Airborne transmission may also occur in poorly ventilated indoor spaces, particularly if individuals are in the same room together for an extended period

At the moment, human-to-human transmission is occurring extensively. Hence, precautions to prevent human-to-human transmission are appropriate for both suspected and confirmed cases (see infection prevention and control guidance).

In addition to respiratory secretions, SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in blood, feces, and urine.

How does the coronavirus Covid-19 spread?

Officials confirmed early in the outbreak Covid-19 is transmitted face-to-face via infected droplets sneeze or coughed out by a patient.

Prevention therefore largely centers on maintaining “social distancing”, with one expert calling two meters (6.5ft) “reasonable”.

To obtain viable and infectious virus particles in feces, the virus must survive after experiencing a variety of chemically harsh environments. In the gastrointestinal tract, virus structure will be in contact with the stomach and bile acids. Furthermore, the virus needs to keep infectious after being released into the environment to infect a new host. The presence of coronaviruses in the gastrointestinal tract was previously confirmed. Their resistance against digestive enzymes as well as lower pH environments is most likely due to the strong interaction between mucins and S protein. Indeed, 76 and 25% of patients infected by SARS-CoV-1 and MERS-CoV, respectively, experienced gastrointestinal symptoms during their illness period, and infectious SARS-CoV-1 was isolated from the intestinal tissue.