BEIJING, Sept 28 (Xinhuanet) -- Noting that poor plumbing helped spread the
SARS virus in apartment complexes in Hong Kong earlier this year, the World
Health Organization said Friday it is drawing up guidelines on improving
environmental hygiene in the design of buildings.
The UN health agency said the decision followed a meeting of experts to
examine the role of bad plumbing and sewage systems in the spread of infectious
"In many countries there will be buildings where keeping sewage separate
from building occupants is a critical challenge," observed Dr Jamie Bartram,
head of WHO's Water, Sanitation and Health Program.
"This could result in harmful viruses, including the SARS coronavirus,
being sucked from the sewage system into the home if, for example, there are
strong extractor fans working in a family's bathroom," he said.
"Fortunately, solutions are simple and already in place in most areas, but
there remain places where shortcuts in design, construction and maintenance
continue to compromise safety," Bartram said.
The meeting, held in Rome, examined lessons learned from the SARS epidemic
and considered risk assessment and management tools to be prepared for future
It drew up concrete measures and regulatory frameworks for the prevention
of "fecal droplet transmission" of disease-causing viruses, said a WHO
A Hong Kong government report earlier this year said the SARS outbreak at
the apartment complex, which eventually sickened 324 people, spread through the
plumbing after water droplets contaminated with the virus were sucked out of
bathroom drains into apartments by ventilation fans.