Dozens of Calgary's COVID-19 cases are coming from one condo building. On Thursday, July 2, Alberta health officials announced that the Verve apartment building has recorded 52 cases of COVID-19. As a result, health officials are looking into "exotic" causes of transmission, including the plumbing system.
Alberta Health Services told CTV that they believe common-touch surface points, such as the ones in elevators, might be contributing to the spread of the disease among the building residents.
Dr. Jia Hu, the Chief Medical Officer of Health for Calgary, said that they're putting a whole bunch of other measures in place to look at other sources of transmission. This includes the HVAC and the plumbing system.
They're also doing environmental sampling to find other potential causes of transmission.
Fears of COVID-19 spreading through plumbing has been seen in many other cases. Residents of a building in Hong Kong were evacuated over concerns that the spread was happening through water pipes, according to CNN.
The SARS outbreak in 2003 was also reportedly attributed to the disease spreading through water pipes and sewage systems found in apartment buildings, said EuroNews.
As for Calgary, Dr. Deena Hinshaw, Alberta's top doctor, also addressed the Verve outbreak in her latest update on COVID-19. As of Friday morning, July 3, a total of 52 cases have been confirmed in the building, said Hinshaw.
"That's based on significant amounts of testing, and work being done with local public health in collaboration with the residents and management of the building," she said.
Hinshaw also told the public that there are 29 active cases in the Verve building.
She said that, as of Tuesday, June 30, there was one person at the hospital but she's not sure if the person was still there on Friday.
The top doctor also gave advice to people at high-rise buildings on what they can do to prevent transmission of COVID-19.
She said that door handles, elevator buttons and other "common-shared surfaces" play a role in spreading the disease.
"In an elevator, it may be prudent to limit the number of people to avoid crowding in that closed space," she stated.
As always, if physical distancing can't be maintained, face masks or coverings should be worn, said Dr. Hinshaw.
CTV also reported on a letter that was given to residents and staff at Verve by the management company.
The letter said that people holding showings at the building have been told to wear PPE and those looking to move in or out should arrange it with management well in advance.
The short-term rental of units, such as those using Airbnb, have also been halted.
Narcity has reached out to the building's management company, FirstService Residential, and we will update this article when we have a response.
The article's cover photo was used for illustrative purposes only.