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Testing expert explains why the Health Department has raised alert over COVID-19 in wastewater

Neil Mitchell
Article image for Testing expert explains why the Health Department has raised alert over COVID-19 in wastewater

Dozens of suburbs are on alert after “strong and unexpected” COVID-19 traces were detected in wastewater.

The Department of Health has asked 246 people, including recently returned travellers from red and orange zones and four close-contacts of the man who tested positive after flying into Melbourne from Perth, to get tested for the virus.

Victoria’s COVID-19 testing commander, Jeroen Weimar, said it was no reason to panic.

Press PLAY below to hear his advice

Microbiologist and project manager of Collaboration of Sewage Surveillance of SARS-COV-2, which works with health departments to monitor the virus in wastewater, Dr Dan Deere, explained what the recent detections mean.

“It just means there’s more chance there’s more of the virus having found its way into the wastewater,” he told Neil Mitchell.

“Either there’s more people that have the virus and are still releasing some of the virus from their system, or it may mean there’s one or two people with a high level of the virus being released into the system.

“Hopefully it’s quite a large number of people shedding a low levels of virus but there’s a theoretical possibility it’s a person early on in the stage of infection shedding a higher level of virus.

“That’s why the Health Department has raised a heightened alert and encouraged people to go and get tested if they’ve got any symptoms or they’ve got any concerns.

“I would call it a case of being alert but not alarmed.”

Press PLAY below to hear Dr Deere’s explanation

RECENT DETECTIONS:

North-western suburbs 20–27 April 2021: Glenroy, Hadfield, Oak Park, Pascoe Vale

Benalla 10– 15 April and 20-26 April 2021 (repeat detections): Benalla

Western suburbs 20 – 27 April 2021: Altona, Altona North, Brooklyn, Newport, South Kingsville, Williamstown, Williamstown North

Northern suburbs 20 – 27 April 2021: Briar Hill, Bundoora, Diamond Creek, Greensborough, Lower Plenty, Macleod, Mill Park, Montmorency, Plenty, South Morang, St Helena, Viewbank, Watsonia, Watsonia North, Yallambie, Yarrambat

Outer eastern suburbs 20 – 26 April 2021: Chirnside Park, Coldstream, Kalorama, Lilydale, Montrose, Mooroolbark, Mount Dandenong, Mount Evelyn, Olinda, Yarra Glen, Yering

Almost 250 Melburnians asked to get tested for COVID-19

Neil Mitchell
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