Thursday, August 27, 2020
Scientists found coronavirus in a long-vacant apartment. A possible spreader? ‘Fecal aerosol plumes’
By Jason Gale and Bloomberg
The discovery of coronavirus in the bathroom of an unoccupied apartment in Guangzhou, China, suggests the airborne pathogen may have wafted upwards through drain pipes, an echo of a large SARS outbreak in Hong Kong 17 years ago.
Traces of SARS-CoV-2 were detected in February on the sink, faucet and shower handle of a long-vacant apartment, researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study published this month in Environment International. The contaminated bathroom was directly above the home of five people confirmed a week earlier to have COVID-19.
The scientists conducted “an on-site tracer simulation experiment” to see whether the virus could be spread through waste pipes via tiny airborne particles that can be created by the force of a toilet flush. They found such particles, called aerosols, in bathrooms 10 and 12 levels above the COVID-19 cases. Two cases were confirmed on each of those floors in early February, raising concern that SARS-CoV-2-laden particles from stool had drifted into their homes via plumbing. Read more >>