27 September 2023

Sewage testing to test virus run-off

Start the conversation

A National COVID-19 sewage sampling project is to be developed to help inform policy makers and health authorities about potential clusters of people infected with the virus.

Chief Scientist at Melbourne Water, Melita Stevens said Melbourne Water had approached Water Research Australia about the coordination of a national approach to testing sewage for COVID-19 and a working group has been formed.

Dr Stevens said the Australia-wide project, Collaboration on Sewage Surveillance of SARS-COV-2, would track and monitor the presence of the virus and its persistence in the Australian sewerage network.

“This sampling could potentially identify emerging or re-emergent outbreaks,” Dr Steven said.

“[It could] better characterise the extent of asymptomatic infections and community transmission,” she said.

“[And] identify the true peak in infected individuals (compared with confirmed cases) within a sewer catchment and confirm ‘clearance’ of the COVID-19 virus from an area.”

“This sample analysis will help inform COVID-19 controls by indicating disease prevalence in the community.”

Dr Stevens said the surveillance of wastewater for the coronavirus was an exciting and significant step with the potential to inform disease control programs.

She said the national project had 12 utility partners, six health Departments and 10 research organisations involved

Project Manager at Melbourne Water, Nick Crosbie said sampling had commenced at different sites across Melbourne and elsewhere in Australia.

Start the conversation

Be among the first to get all the Public Sector and Defence news and views that matter.

Subscribe now and receive the latest news, delivered free to your inbox.

By submitting your email address you are agreeing to Region Group's terms and conditions and privacy policy.