Initial surveys and investigations in homes in Heinsberg have already provided some indications of how the virus works.
Streeck, who is director of the Institute of Virology at Bonn University, said he was able to detect coronavirus by swabbing remote controls, washbasins, mobile phones, toilets or door handles.
However, it has not been possible to cultivate the virus in the laboratory on the basis of these swabs. "This means that we have detected the RNA (or ribonucleic acid, which carries the virus’s genetic information) of 'dead' viruses," Streeck said.
According to his previous research results, he believes "that a door handle can only be infectious if someone has actually coughed in their hand and then reached for it.
"After that, you have to reach for the door handle yourself and touch your face," he said. It is not yet possible to say how long the virus can remain on a door handle because not enough studies have been carried out.
Streeck added: "We were in a household where many highly infectious people lived, and yet we did not manage to detect a living virus from any surface."