COVID-19 Cluster Linked to Aerosol Transmission of SARS-CoV-2 via Floor Drains

Taewon Han, Heedo Park, Yungje Jeong, Jungmin Lee, Eungyeong Shon, Man Seong Park, Minki Sung

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

16 Citations (Scopus)


Background: Recently, severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) transmission through exposure to aerosols has been suggested. Therefore, we investigated the possibility of aerosol SARS-CoV-2 transmission within an apartment complex where residents reported testing positive for SARS-CoV-2 despite having no direct contact with other SARS-CoV-2-infected people. Methods: Information on symptom onset and exposure history of the patients was collected by global positioning system (GPS) tracking to investigate possible points of contact or spread. Samples collected from patients and from various areas of the complex were analyzed using RNA sequencing. Phylogenetic analysis was also performed. Results: Of 19 people with confirmed SARS-CoV-2 infection, 5 reported no direct contact with other residents and were from apartments in the same vertical line. Eight environmental samples tested positive for the virus. Phylogenetic analyses revealed that 3 of the positive cases and 1 environmental sample belonged to the B.1.497 lineage. Additionally, 3 clinical specimens and 1 environmental sample from each floor of the complex had the same amino acid substitution in the ORF1ab region. Conclusions: SARS-CoV-2 transmission possibly occurs between different floors of an apartment building through aerosol transmission via nonfunctioning drain traps.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)1554-1560
Number of pages7
JournalJournal of Infectious Diseases
Issue number9
Publication statusPublished - 2022 May 1

Bibliographical note

Funding Information:
This work was supported by the National Research Foundation of Korea funded by the Ministry of Science and Information and Communication Technologies, Republic of Korea (grant numbers NRF-2017M3A9E4061995 and NRF-2019R1A2C2084206).

Publisher Copyright:
© 2022 The Author(s).


  • COVID-19
  • aerosol transmission
  • coronavirus
  • outbreak investigation
  • severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Immunology and Allergy
  • Infectious Diseases


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