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Panic in Hong Kong: Wuhan coronavirus spread through pipes

Christian Fernsby |
More than 100 residents in 35 households in a public estate in Hong Kong were evacuated in the early hours today after two people in the block were confirmed to have contracted the coronavirus.

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The precautionary move was sparked by the case of a 62 year old woman in Room 307 on the third floor of Hong Mei House at Cheung Hong Estate. She was Hong Kong’s 42nd and latest case as of 1.30am today.

She was found to have lived directly below a man in Room 1307 on the 13th floor, who was confirmed earlier to be Hong Kong’s 12th case.

University of Hong Kong microbiologist Professor Yuen Kwok-yung said a vent pipe, which connected to a discharge pipe in a bathroom was not properly sealed and could have carried the virus present in faeces into bathrooms by extraction fans.

“When a person turns on the exhaust fan inside the toilet, the air inside the drainage system can enter the toilet via the ventilation pipe,” he said.

As a precaution, Yuen said all flats numbered 7 on every floor had to be vacated so their piping could be inspected.

“We have reasons to worry that airborne transmission is a possibility,” Yuen said, adding that authorities were not ruling out other routes, such as contact.

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