COVID-19 Hot Spots: Handful of Buildings Outside Wuhan Linked to Multiple Cases

Colorized scanning electron micrograph of coronavirus (MERS) particles both budding and attached to the surface of infected VERO E6 cells. Credit NIAID, modified.

An apartment building in Hong Kong, its units linked by pipes. A department store in the eastern Chinese city of Tianjin, where more than 11,000 shoppers and employees mingled. A ski chalet in France, home base for a group of British citizens on vacation.

In Tianjin, the authorities ordered more than 10,000 people into quarantine, after they traced one-third of cases in the city to a single department store.

In Hong Kong on Tuesday, dozens of residents were evacuated from their apartment building overnight, as two people living 10 floors apart were found to be infected with the coronavirus. Officials said an unsealed pipe might be to blame.

And in Britain on Feb. 11, a businessman who is believed to be the source of 10 other cases in Britain and France said that he showed no symptoms before testing positive for the coronavirus.

Wu Zunyou, the chief epidemiologist of China’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention, said at a news conference on Tuesday that there had been nearly 1,000 clusters in China, with 83 percent occurring within families. But schools, factories, shopping centers and medical facilities also contributed to the spread, he said.

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