NHS staff are being tested for coronavirus in a car park in the Chessington World of Adventures in greater London. (Getty Images)
Scientists have compiled a number of tips that could prevent the coronavirus from spreading in home plumbing systems.
Almost unknown at the beginning of the year, the new strain is somewhat mysterious.
It spreads mainly face-to-face via infected droplets expelled when a patient coughs or sneezes, which is why social distancing is important.
Early research suggests that four out of five cases, the infection is mild but can cause a respiratory disease called COVID-19.
There is also evidence that traces of the virus can be shed in the feces.
To counteract this, a team from Heriot Watt University in Edinburgh advises the public to type twice a day and not to ignore the foul smells from their bathroom.
Rana Ramlawi, who creates art out of sand, poses with her mask sculptures in Gaza City. (Getty Images)
The coronavirus reportedly appeared in a seafood and live animal market in the Chinese city of Wuhan late last year.
It has since spread to more than 180 countries on all inhabited continents.
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More than a million cases have been confirmed since the outbreak was established, of which over 212,000 have “recovered” according to Johns Hopkins University.
In China, incidents have plateaued since late February, and the US and Europe are now the hardest hit areas.
There have been more than 34,100 confirmed cases and over 2,900 deaths in the UK.
Globally, the death toll has exceeded 53,100.
Coronavirus: does it spread in the feces?
Fears that the coronavirus could spread via feces arose in mid-February when two people who lived 10 floors apart in the same Hong Kong apartment block were diagnosed.
Officials later found an unsealed pipe in one of the patient’s bathrooms that could have carried the virus into her home.
The coronavirus is one of seven strains of a class of viruses known to infect humans.
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Others cause the common cold, while one leads to Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (Sars) that killed 774 people in the 2002/03 outbreak.
The new coronavirus is said to be more genetically similar to Sars than any other strain in this class.
In 2003, 342 people in a 50-story Hong Kong apartment block were diagnosed with Sars, of whom 42 died.
The World Health Organization concluded that “inadequate plumbing” made a “likely contribution”.
It was assumed that “virus-rich excrement” via “sewage and drainage systems with strong air currents upwards, inadequate” traps “and non-functioning water seals” “re-entered” the residents’ apartments.
While the coronavirus can be shed in human waste, some experts have questioned whether these traces are infectious.
“It’s not a very pleasant thought, but every time you swallow, you swallow mucus from your upper airways,” said Dr. John Edmunds of the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine.
“This directs viruses and bacteria into our intestines, where they are denatured under the acidic conditions of our stomach.
“With modern, very highly sensitive detection mechanisms, we can detect these viruses in the feces.
“Usually viruses that we can identify in this way are not contagious to others because our intestines destroy them.”
Unlike Sars, diarrhea is not a common symptom of the new coronavirus, suggesting that human waste is not a primary route of transmission.
People queuing outside a supermarket in Bogota, Colombia. (Getty Images)
Coronavirus: Expert tips to keep sanitary systems free of pathogens
The extent to which the coronavirus will spread in human waste is up for debate.
In order to keep the number of cases low and to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system, the Heriot-Watt scientists emphasize that all transmission routes should be taken into account.
“The sewer system is a harbinger of pathogenic microorganisms from the start,” the team wrote in The Lancet Global Health.
To keep plumbing systems virus-free, they should emphasize the following:
Don’t ignore the foul smells that come from a bathroom, kitchen, or laundry area
Make sure that all water equipment in kitchens and bathrooms has a working U-bend. “U-bends act as a protective barrier between us and the sewage system,” said lead author Dr. Michael Gormley. “If they don’t have water, there is a higher risk of air contaminated with pathogen-laden aerosols entering a room. Water traps can lose their water for a number of reasons, such as: B. by overstressing the system, which leads to pressure surges and can compromise the integrity of the system. “
Prevent U-bends from losing their water trap seal by running all faucets at least twice a day for up to 10 seconds
Immediately seal off unconnected or open sewage pipes. This can be achieved by covering the end of the pipe with a resilient rubber glove or by securing a plastic bag over the end with some tape. Make sure there are no holes in the pocket
Seal any cracks or leaks in a pipe with tape or glue
“Monitor continuously [the] Total system performance ”in large or tall buildings. Self-isolation can mean that “infected people contribute to higher viral loads in the EU [plumbing] System “. This is a particular problem in” high risk broadcast environments such as hospitals and health care buildings “.
The coronavirus shares some, but not all, of the symptoms with colds and flu. (Yahoo UK)
What is the coronavirus?
The coronavirus tends to cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, cough, and slight shortness of breath.
In severe cases, pneumonia can develop when the infection spreads to the air sacs in the lungs and these become inflamed and filled with fluid or pus.
The lungs then have difficulty drawing air, which leads to decreased levels of oxygen in the bloodstream and an accumulation of carbon dioxide.
The coronavirus has no “set” treatment as most patients fight off the infection naturally.
Those who need to be hospitalized are given “supportive care” such as ventilation while their immune systems are functioning.
In addition to coughing, sneezing, and human waste, there is also evidence that the coronavirus can survive on surfaces.
Officials are urging people to fight off the coronavirus by washing their hands regularly and maintaining social distance.
To curb the spread of infection, Boris Johnson has put in place draconian measures that only allow British people to leave their homes for “very limited purposes”, such as shopping for essentials.
Anyone with the tell-tale fever or cough of the coronavirus has been told to fully self-isolate for seven days while everyone else in their household must do the same for two weeks.