Gympie region sewage not being tested for COVID-19
THE pilot wastewater surveillance program for COVID-19 which discovered low level viral fragments of COVID-19 in sewage at Hervey Bay this week has not been rolled out to any Gympie region treatment plants.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said the most likely cause of the viral fragments detected in the test was virus shedding from a case that was no longer infectious.
“A negative result today doesn’t indicate a false positive in the previous test, nor does either result confirm the presence or absence of an unidentified confirmed case in the community,” Dr Young said.
“What it does do is reinforce the importance of getting tested if members of the community experience any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild, including fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue or loss of sense or smell.”
Whether or not there are viral fragments in Gympie sewage nobody knows.
“The ‘plot wastewater surveillance program for COVID-19’ is currently being rolled out by Queensland Health and does not include any sewage treatment plants in the Gympie Local Government Area as they have not been identified as ‘potential sampling sites’,” a council spokesman said yesterday.
Queensland Health has joined forces with researchers from the University of Queensland and CSIRO to analyse samples of wastewater (sewage) for fragments of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The pilot program is designed to take and analyse samples from wastewater treatment plants across Queensland and is intended to help inform Queensland Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Sampling sites are chosen based on a number of factors but the ultimate aim is to sample from sites that will provide the most useful data in the context of Queensland Health’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
The presence of fragments of SARS-CoV-2 does not mean there is ‘live’ virus, capable of causing infection, present in the wastewater. SARS-CoV-2 is easily inactivated by conventional wastewater treatment processes. There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread via recycled water nor via treated wastewater released to waterways.
It is not yet viable for councils or utilities to undertake their own sampling programs, and sampling of on-site wastewater treatment plants is not appropriate. The pilot program is scheduled to conclude at the end of October.
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