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A Woman Gave Coronavirus to 71 People By Doing This

“A single asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection could result in widespread community transmission.”

Health experts have made it clear that small, enclosed spaces with poor ventilation can offer an ideal environment for the spread of COVID-19. Now, a new report has tied one of these types of places—which the majority of us have been wondering about—to a large outbreak of coronavirus cases. A new report published by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention claims that one woman in China infected approximately 71 people—just by a single elevator ride. 

Quarantined—But She Used the Elevator

The report, which details an outbreak in Heilongjiang Province, China, stemming from a 25-year-old woman who returned to her country from the United States on March 19 with no COVID symptoms. Due to her travels, she was asked to quarantine in her apartment until her tests came back. Upon arrival, she took her building's elevator up to her apartment. She had no direct contact with anyone. Tests for antibodies for SARS-CoV-2 came back negative on March 31 and April 3.

On March 26, a downstairs neighbor of the woman, who had used the elevator but not at the same time as her, had his mother and her partner stay overnight. Three days later, the mother and her boyfriend went to a party. Then, on April 2, one of the partygoers suffered a stroke and was admitted to one hospital — where 28 other people were then infected — and then another, where an additional 20 became infected. 

On April 7, the mother's boyfriend started showing COVID-19 symptoms.

"He tested positive for SARS-CoV-2 on April 9, the first confirmed case in this cluster," the research letter published in the journal Emerging Infectious Diseases said. As a result of his infection, a number of others were infected with the virus, including the initial woman's neighbor. 

At this point, investigators opted to give the initial woman another antibody test. This time, she had antibodies, which suggested she had been previously infected with coronavirus and was an asymptomatic spreader. The Chinese Center for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the single point of origin of the cluster via genomic testing. 

A Superspreading Event

Researchers point out that this superspreading event clearly demonstrates how a single case can result in mass infection. 

"Our results illustrate how a single asymptomatic SARS-CoV-2 infection could result in widespread community transmission. This report also highlights the resources required for case investigation and challenges associated with containment of SARS-CoV-2. Continued measures to protect, screen, and isolate infected persons are essential to mitigating and containing the COVID-19 pandemic."

Recently an open letter from 239 experts to the World Health Organization claims that there is evidence that COVID is airborne. If that is true, it is possible virus droplets were lingering in the air of the elevator, resulting in the infection of others. 

As for yourself: Do not take the elevator if you've possibly been exposed to COVID-19! To stay safe during this pandemic, wash your hands with soap and water frequently, or clean your hands using an alcohol-based sanitizer; maintain a distance of at least six feet between yourself and other people; avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth; wear a face mask when possible; and avoid crowds. And to get through this pandemic at your healthiest, don't miss these Things You Should Never Do During the Coronavirus Pandemic.

Leah Groth
Leah Groth has decades of experience covering all things health, wellness and fitness related. Read more about Leah
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