Can Covid - 19 virus enters into your home from a sick person’s toilet downstairs ?

Airborne viruses like the covid-19 have the potential to get transmitted through plumbing and sewage pipes. Can you believe it? Yes. The Viral organisms can spread between rooms on different floors of the building and sometimes between buildings through the standard plumbing and sewage system. The risk of spreading the disease is high when there is a large concentration of infected people in self-isolation or quarantine areas as the whole plumbing system is interconnected.

WHO Report :

In 2003, World Health Organisation submitted a report about the SARS virus transmission through the defected wastewater plumbing system. When Hong Kong's 50 story building had confirmed about 342 cases and 42 deaths due to the shared plumbing network, they concluded this.

Amoy Gardens Incident :

On March 14th, 2003, a SARS-affected patient visited Amoy Gardens Housing complex block E. He entered an apartment on the middle floor and used the bathroom because of diarrhea. The same person revisited the condo and used the toilet on March 19th. After this incident, an explosion of cases occurred in the same block E, of which nearly 99 were affected. The interesting fact was that most of the people affected by SARS stayed above the first patient's house.

How was SARS Virus transmitted through a defective plumbing system?

The virus that is flushed out from the infected family's fecal matter to the standard sewage pipes acts as a transmission mode within the buildings. The virus-laden droplets enter other apartments through the empty U - bends in bathrooms. It is then aided by the ventilation in the bathroom that circulates the contaminated air into other rooms of the house.

Covid and plumbing :

The recent surge of court cases also suspected of transmission through the wastewater pipes between apartments and buildings. In China's Guangzhou highrise building, five members who stayed on the 15th floor had a Covid infection after visiting Wuhan. A few days later, the two couples residing on the 25th and 27th floor in the straight line above the 15th floor also get affected by Covid. The fact is that the 25th and 27th-floor residents who got a covid infection had not moved out of their homes due to China's strict lockdown. To confirm the transmission mode, Chinese scientists experimented by passing a tracer gas into the 15th-floor apartment's drainage pipeline. They found that it existed in the 25th and 27th-floor apartment bathrooms. They concluded that if there is a higher concentration of infected people in an area, then the 'viral load 'will be high enough to get transmitted through the wastewater pipelines.

Raising concerns :

1. The high concentration of viral load in the wastewater plumbing system may lead to a higher risk of spreading the virus.

2. The plumbing systems overuse due to the self-isolation of the infected people in apartments is a significant concern.

3. The usage of quarantine areas for covid patients in hospitals is the primary concern, as it can spread the virus quickly. This is not the most significant cause of transmitting the covid infection, but the spread of a virus through the wastewater plumbing system within the apartment blocks cannot be ruled out. So, Some of the steps that can be followed to prevent or minimize the transmission of Covid through plumbing or the drainage system are,

  • If the plumbing system has any blockage, it causes backpressure and increases the risk of infection. So to overcome this, the issues related to these systems are to be identified and addressed quickly.
  • If the building residents encounter any foul smell from the bathroom, kitchen, or wash areas, don't ignore it.
  • Ensure that the U - bends, which are an essential requirement in the building regulations, are fitted to all bathrooms and kitchens and are maintained in excellent condition. This is because it acts as a barrier to the foul smells from sewage pipes.
  • Make sure to run the water in all taps at least for 5 seconds twice a day to ensure the correct water level in the U- bends.
  • The plumbing system needs adequate ventilation using the plumbing vent pipes. These vent pipes prevent sewer gases from entering your home and at the same time allow foul odor to escape.
  • If there are any holes, cracks, or leaks in the plumbing network, seal it with tape and glue.
  • Keep the disconnected or the open wastewater pipes closed, using an elastic rubber glove, a plastic bag, or tape without holes.
  • The continuous monitoring of the entire plumbing system is essential to ensure good working conditions and sanitation.
  • If the problem pertains, call for the best plumbing services to resolve the issue as soon as possible.
DIY ( Do It Yourself ) to get rid of covid through wastewater pipes :

If you live in an apartment building, the first thing to do is not to let the bathroom drains dry out. So, pour water into all the traps, including the bathroom floors. If you have covid, you can prevent its spread by closing the toilet lid and flushing it so that the virus cloud won't seep into the neighbor's home through the dry drains. Make sure to clean the bathroom surfaces regularly and ventilate them with open windows or exhaust fans. Take necessary actions to fix the issues like foul smell and U - bend pipes to avoid lousy air and germs getting crept inside the home. All the above information does not mean that the bathroom pipes in the apartment buildings are the primary transmission medium of covid infection in the cities. It warns people that they need to be careful now as a higher concentration of infected people may cause a viral load in the plumbing system and might get a covid infection.

As prevention is better than cure in this super spreading event, it's better to check your plumbing system for sanitization to ensure everyone's safety.

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