How can the coronavirus spread through bathroom pipes? Experts are investigating in Hong Kong

By Helen Regan, CNN

How can the coronavirus spread through bathroom pipes? Experts are investigating in Hong Kong

Updated 3:52 AM ET, Wed February 12, 2020

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Early Tuesday morning, health officials in Hong Kong partially evacuated residents from an apartment block over fears the coronavirus may have been transmitted via the building's pipes.

Two residents living on different floors of a high-rise tower called Hong Mei House, in northwestern Hong Kong's Tsing Yi, had been infected with coronavirus, health officials said. A 62-year-old woman was diagnosed with the virus about a week-and-a-half after a 75-year-old man in the same building became infected. ReplayMore Videos ...


Coronavirus global death toll surpasses 1,000 people 01:25In Hong Mei House, authorities are still investigating a modified vent pipe that could have allowed the virus to spread."There are reasons to believe that confirmed cases of low-level units are caused by improper modification of toilet exhaust pipe," Leung Kar-ming, the district councilor representing Hong Mei House, told CNN in an email. "It is to (be) believed at this stage it is due to improper modification of individual unit (307) where parts of the pipe were cut off and removed permanently." One possibility is that infected material from the first patient's apartment could have traveled down the pipes and entered the room via the broken vent in the second patient's bathroom. "If the patient is in the toilet and reading a newspaper, or whatever he's doing, then he will be exposed to this infected air," said Hung.