Out of curiosity moments ago, I thought I'd google "Guangzhou restaurant" to see what I could find. Oddly, the very first photo I saw was what appeared to be a patron at a table with both hands to the mouth while eating. It happens there, it happens here, it happens all around the world constantly.
To rehash briefly a behavior I have witnessed for ages (I had addressed this earlier wrt influenza spread) , is that many folks can not help keeping their fingers out of their mouths, especially while cooking, serving food or dining. Basically, saliva that is now on their fingers will subsequently be transferred to many commonly touched surfaces, whereupon others will also touch those surfaces (fomites if there is a viral load), and possibly infect themselves. It is so casual and inadvertent, I don't think there are many people pay attention to this common habit.
Pay careful attention and watch. Just on a tv series we're watching now, I noticed a few times that the granddad is cooking and serving food in the kitchen, and as he turns to the dining table, he is cleaning excess food from his fingers. His saliva will be transferred to the plates he hands to others, etc- you get the point.
This does make sense, right? And if so, why is NOBODY especially in the medical community mentioning this? Dr Fauci for instance, suggests not shaking hands indefinitely into the future. How about "Keep your fingers out of your mouth when you eat" also? Unless maybe viral loaded saliva from an infected person is negligible, maybe? I've found out that part of the confusion and why this theory gets quickly dismissed is because it appears at first glance a wild idea that borders along the lines of food poisoning, or ingesting virus to the stomach. Headline dismissal I suppose, w/o careful reading.
Take the Washington state choir incident for example. Everybody it seems is using this as a case of viral airborne/inhalation spread by singing. Okay, maybe and probably. But some careful research shows that just outside the door, there was a self-serve table of cut mandarins- ie finger food. I can recall many direct incidents when people ate similar snacks, that their fingers went into their mouths. It's almost a guarantee because of all those messy juices.
So a contagious person there puts their own saliva on their fingers, and then, despite all the social distancing and other preventative measures, does handle the doors, chairs, handrails and so forth. Others there pick it up too. We can't rule this out.
And then, carefully note some of the outbreaks at funerals. Same thing- food bars and self serve. Or take that restaurant that is often cited, where the explanation of spread is air circulation around person A-1. Probably so, but then again I have witnessed many times patrons at tables who lick their fingers as they eat, and then touch surfaces around them. In fact, one waitress on break I noticed, was eating a sandwich, and between every bite, she licked clean all of her ten fingers. So a waitperson could do it, a patron could do it, or any of those surfaces could be cross-contaminated as waitpersons move between tables.
I read in one of the science papers discussing viral spread via saliva, and it appears that up to seven different surfaces can be contaminated. That means the waitress above could have potentially contaminated 70 different surfaces after she resumed work! (unless she washed her hands after the meal, but probably not.)
I agree that airborne inhalation or close contact is the most probable mode of transmission. But then again, I don't think it is 'scientific' at all to merely assume that is the case for many of the outbreak areas.
Make sense anyone, or is this so well understood already I'm preaching to the choir? :)