Virologist Professor Kim Roberts has said that the evidence to date is that there is not a risk of transmission of Covid-19 on fabric and that school uniforms would be of low risk for spreading the virus.
While the virus can survive on some fabrics, it is for only a short amount of time, she told RTÉ radio’s Today with Sarah McInerney.
If the virus dries out then it is “inactivated” and the nature of most fabrics is that they would dry out quickly, she explained.
“I don’t think fabric is at high risk of transmission. School uniforms would be very low risk,” she said, according to the data to date.
Prof Roberts acknowledged that she could see the logic of schools requesting that uniforms be washed every day, but she felt it was important to reassure parents who did not have the facilities to wash and dry uniforms every day, that there was no evidence that clothing was a transmission risk.
If parents could not wash uniforms every day they were not putting their own children or other people’s children at risk, she said.
However, lunch boxes and pencil cases were a different matter and provided a greater risk which was why it was important that there be no sharing of equipment within classrooms.
Items should be washed in a detergent which would deactivate the virus, she said.
Prof Roberts said that she believed the amount of the virus in schools “should be pretty low.”