Can Coronavirus Spread Through Building Pipes? 

  February 14, 2020

By Greg Zimmerman

The coronavirus outbreak is already a nightmare scenario, leaving many facility managers to double- and triple-check emergency management plans for infectious diseases. But a new issue that played out in a building in Hong Kong may add to what is already keeping facilities managers up at night: The virus may be able to spread through a building’s pipework. 

Two people were infected with the deadly virus, one of whom had an unsealed pipe in her bathroom, and lived 10 floors below a previously infected patient, according to Newsweek. This has led to concern that the virus spread through the pipework. Four other residents of the building in three other units also have shown symptoms of the virus. As a precautionary measure, more than 100 residents have since been evacuated from the 35-story facility that’s home to more than 3,000 people.

Officials aren’t positive the virus spread through the pipes — it could’ve been the “usual” methods. But Hong Kong’s government is investigating the pipes in the facility to determine if that method of transmission is possible.

A virus spreading through building pipes is extremely uncommon, but not without precedent, according to LiveScience. In 2003, officials found that the severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS) virus had spread through “faulty plumbing” in at least one instance. 

This post was submitted by Greg Zimmerman, executive editor, Building Operating Management and Read his cover story about Chris Walinski and his mission to make open offices flexible and productive. 


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