on air now

What wastewater testing can reveal about the spread of COVID-19

Wastewater testing in the beachside town of Anglesea has revealed coronavirus fragments in the sewage, which are likely from a resident, not someone passing through.

Speaking at today’s COVID-19 press conference, Deputy Chief Health Officer, Allen Cheng, revealed the level of COVID-19 virus found in the area suggests a resident likely has the virus.

Microbiologist and project manager for the program overseeing COVID-19 sewage testing, Dr Daniel Deere, said the detection of coronavirus in wastewater doesn’t necessarily mean there is an active case.

“It tells us .. there’s either somebody there now who is actively shedding the virus and infected, or there has been someone there fairly recently, and it’s dropped into the wastewater somehow,” he told Neil Mitchell.

Dr Deere said wastewater testing is a valuable tool for measuring the spread of the virus.

“One test could be representing thousands of people, so it’s a nice cost effective way to gather information,” he said.

Wastewater testing is particularly helpful in regional areas, where treatment plants serve fewer residents.

“In the rural areas and regional areas the sewage treatment plants might serve a much smaller population, so the information is much more useful,” he said.

Press PLAY below for more.