Recent study shows coronavirus outbreak in block of flats was attributed to faecal fumes

Residents living in a block of flats in Guangzhou, China became the centre of a study after nine people from three families had contracted coronavirus. The study strangely concludes that faecal fumes were to blame.

Apartments in Guangzhou, China
© Getty Images
Apartments in Guangzhou, China

We all know that coronavirus can be transmitted by air but according to this study where the air comes from might surprise you.

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The study conducted by the Annals of Internal Medicine followed a block of flats after nine people from three families fell sick with the virus. All 193 residents and 24 workers in the block were regularly tested for the virus and it was found that the infections occurred between flats that were on top of each other.

The study outlined that the family on the bottom floor of the apartment (Family A) had travelled to Wuhan in January at the height of the pandemic but none of the other two families had any travel history.

Family A returned home from their trip on January 24th and just a week later, members of Families B and C (the second and third floor) were found to have symptoms of coronavirus. According to the study, residents from the separate flats didn't know each other and had not shared an elevator in that time.

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Researchers used ethane to test the pipes in the flats and found that all the gas released in the Master bathroom was traced to the above flats via the drainage system. Scientists believe that if members from Family B and C were in their bathrooms at the same time as Family A, then they may have inhaled faecal fumes carrying the virus. The study concluded:

The bioaerosolization of wastewater mixed with urine, faeces, and exhaled mucus originating from index patients is suggested to be the source of infectious bioaerosols in this outbreak. Thus, the COVID-19 outbreak in block X may have been caused by faecal aerosol transmission, on the basis of circumstantial evidence.

An earlier study published back in June by The Physics of Fluids also found that coronavirus could be spread through not only breath but virus-laden poop.

However, the recent study has been taken with a grain of salt as Nick Talley MD, editor-in-chief of Medical Journal Australia tweeted that the study was 'speculative'.

Still, if this study has taught us anything, it's to wear a mask, wear pants and please don't fart in public.

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