26 September 2023

Wastewater tests flush with data

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The State’s Wastewater Testing Program for COVID-19 — a collaboration between the Department of Health, PathWest and the Water Corporation — has begun.

Minister for Health, Roger Cook said the best available techniques and equipment were being used, ensuring that the science and objectives helped inform WA’s response to COVID-19.

“The initial tests were performed on previously collected (historical) samples from a wastewater catchment area where positive cases of COVID-19 were residing at the time,” Mr Cook said.

“While there are still unknowns in relation to the duration of faecal shedding of COVID-19, the initial samples tested have shown some positive results, indicating that the COVID-19 virus can be detected in wastewater sampled from a catchment area with positive cases.”

He said the virus was not ‘alive’ in the water and a positive result did not indicate any current community COVID-19 cases, so there should be no cause for concern.

“The focus will now turn to testing of fresh samples to assist with ongoing surveillance for the virus in our communities,” Mr Cook said.

“Sampling directly from State-run hotel quarantine sites where current positive cases of COVID-19 are housed has begun to further inform how best wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 can be used.”

The Minister said the State had taken a scientific approach to wastewater testing.

“We have not jeopardised our approach by rushing the test into service without first performing a comprehensive assessment,” Mr Cook said.

“The finding of positive results from historical samples has shown that our methodology and testing is valid.”

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