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The discovery of the coronavirus in the bathroom of an unoccupied apartment in Guangzhou, China, suggests the airborne pathogen may have wafted upwards through drain pipes, an echo of a large SARS outbreak in Hong Kong 17 years ago.

Traces of SARS-CoV-2 were detected in February on the sink, faucet and shower handle of a long-vacant apartment, researchers at the Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention said in a study published this month in Environment International. The contaminated bathroom was directly above the home of five people confirmed a week earlier to have COVID-19.

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