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Can Bathroom Exhaust Fans, Sewage Lines Spread COVID-19? Pulmonologist Answers

Dr Bharat Gopal, senior consultant, pulmonology at Fortis Hospital, Delhi, answers questions regarding a recently surfaced notion that fans or WCs can spread coronavirus.

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This article is a part of a series by The Better India to share verified information about COVID-19 care. While several posts on various aspects of fighting COVID-19 are being circulated on social media and messaging services like WhatsApp, we urge you not to trust unverified content. To separate fact from fiction, we will be sharing the videos and content with doctors and experts and bring you their responses with scientific research-backed information.

‘Did you know that your bathroom exhaust fan could be the reason for the virus’s transmission?’ (sic)

The WhatsApp message being circulated.

Dr Bharat Gopal, Senior Consultant, Pulmonology, at Fortis Hospital Vasant Kunj helps us make sense of this message that has been doing rounds lately.

1. If a neighbour below my house has contracted COVID-19, can I also contract COVID-19, just by virtue of living in the house above?

Dr Bharat Gopal: There is no data regarding the same. However, given that the use of common areas, like staircases and elevators, the virus does have the chance of spreading. In order to curtail this spread, it is advised that we maintain social distancing, wear a double mask when we step out of our homes, and continue to sanitise or wash hands with soap and water.

Following COVID appropriate behaviour is the key to arresting this virus.

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2. Can the sewage lines running through the houses be a source of the virus travelling? Should one be keeping the water closet (WC) flap shut while using the flush?

Dr Bharat Gopal: With respect to the sewage lines, the WC flap and even exhaust fans installed in the bathrooms, I can only say that there has been no data to prove any of these statements. Please don’t get taken in by all this, all you are required to follow is COVID appropriate behaviour.

Please respect science instead of WhatsApp forwards.

(Edited by Divya Sethu)

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