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COVID-19: Why Queensland is the perfect place to use sewage detection

Article image for COVID-19: Why Queensland is the perfect place to use sewage detection

Detecting COVID-19 viral fragments in wastewater can serve as “early warning surveillance” for the community.

Queensland Heath regularly advises of incidents where the virus has been detected in sewage, fragments have been found in 31 samples from wastewater treatment plants along the coast in the past fortnight alone.

CSIRO’s Land and Water Science director Dr Paul Bertsch explained how it works.

“The virus is shred in individuals quite early in infection in their faeces, typically a day or two after infection well before they physically show symptoms,” he said.

“But what also happens is that individuals who have recovered shed the virus for some time after recovering.

“We are in the perfect place to be actually using this early warning surveillance method, that is the waste water detection because we do have very low incidents.

“We were able to detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater here in Brisbane up to 3 weeks before the first individual was clinically diagnosed.”

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Image: iStock

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