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Why wastewater testing is important to contain Covid-19 outbreaks?

Covid-19 is transmitted from person to person via the respiratory system through sneezing and coughing directly, and indirectly via contaminated surfaces. Water and sanitation systems are not the first priority in managing Covid-19 as the virus is not waterborne. However, wastewater treamtent systems can act as an early alert system to detect the presence of the virus in the community which can provide authorities sufficient time to take appropriate measures to contain the outbreak.

Fragments of the virus have been detected at wastewater treatment plants in Queensland and across Australia. Coronavirus can potentially survive in the gastrointestinal tract and enter the wastewater via the faecal-oral route. However, there have not been reports of faecal-oral transmission to date. It has been said that wastewater can be an indirect infection pathway during SARS-CoVs outbreaks. Especially in low-income countries where there is an inadequate sanitation infrastructure.

How wastewater testing can help manage Covid-19?

A positive sewage result indicates someone with the infection is shedding the virus or there are undetected infections in the area. Infected people can shed the virus for weeks, even after they are no longer infectious.

Wastewater testing can be used as an early warning system to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2. We have seen other viral outbreaks including Ebola in 2000, SARS - CoV-1 in 2003, Swine Flu in 2009 and Middle East respiratory syndrome coronavirus (MERS - CoV) in 2012. Due to the increased animal virus outbreaks into humans, wastewater surveillance is an effective method to discover and track viral infections in humans. It can give the authorities time to take appropriate measures like social distancing and self isolation to contain the disease.

Need help maintaining your Wastewater Treatment System? Let our wastewater experts help you.

According to the World Health Organisation, Water, Sanitation and Hygiene (WASH), as well as waste management practices, would prevent an outbreak of Covid-19.

  • Follow correct hand hygiene practices using alcohol-based hand rub or soap and water.
  • Safe management of drinking water and sanitation services. The current practice of water disinfection and wastewater treatment can inactivate SARS-CoV-2.

Water utilities, wastewater treatment specialists should continue to follow the conventional precautions for dealing with wastewater. This includes using the appropriate tools, equipment, PPE and sanitation measures.

The current wastewater treatment methods like oxidation and UV disinfection are more than adequate to control the transmission of Covid-19 via drinking water, recycled water and wastewater. “Drinking water in Australia is high quality and is well treated. It is not anticipated that drinking water will be affected by novel coronavirus” according to the Australian Department of Health.

Caring for your Septic System

If you have a septic system or aerated wastewater treatment system , make sure you get the system inspected regularly by a licensed professional. While septic systems do not disinfect the water, they are expected to manage the pathogens safely. Additionally, a properly installed and maintained system will ensure safe treatment and discharge of wastewater. If you have any questions or need advice for your on-site sewage system, feel free to call us on 1300 722 517 or complete our online enquiry form today.

References

  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-020-00605-2
  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41893-020-00605-2
  • https://www.waterra.com.au/_r9550/media/system/attrib/file/2200/WaterRA_FS_Coronavirus_V11.pdf
  • https://www.gizmodo.com.au/2021/03/sewage-testing-robots-help-to-predict-covid-19-outbreaks-sooner/
  • https://www.brisbanetimes.com.au/national/queensland/virus-fragments-found-at-seven-more-queensland-wastewater-treatment-plants-20210126-p56wz9.html
  • https://ucsdnews.ucsd.edu/feature/uc-san-diego-and-san-diego-county-test-covid-19-early-alert-system-in-schools
  • https://www.nature.com/articles/s41587-020-0690-1