Covid viral fragments detected in WA wastewater

WA Health urges anyone with symptoms of COVID-19, no matter how mild, to be tested immediately and isolate until a negative result is received and symptoms have cleared.

Viral fragments of COVID-19 (SARS-CoV 2) have been detected in wastewater from City Beach and surrounding suburbs, including Wembley Downs and Floreat.

This unexpected detection was found in a sample collected on Tuesday, 25 January and is of particular concern as there is no known cases of COVID-19 residing, or having reported being in the area at the time of sampling.

Finding traces of the virus in ;wastewater ;could mean there are active cases in the area, or an active ;case has recently passed through the area. ;It could also represent a person recently recovered from COVID-19 who is continuing to shed the virus into the wastewater.

Repeat wastewater samples will be taken in the City Beach area over the coming days.

COVID-19 viral fragments have also been detected in wastewater collected from the Mandurah area.

A wastewater detection of COVID-19 has also been identified in the catchment that covers the Mandurah area and surrounding suburbs, which correlates with COVID-19 case being in that area.

The area includes Barragup, Mandurah, North Mandurah, West Murray, West Pinjarra and Yunderup.

WA’s COVID-19 wastewater surveillance program

The Western Australian SARS-CoV-2 (COVID-19) wastewater surveillance program includes weekly wastewater sampling at six metropolitan wastewater treatment plants, 12 regional sites across 10 regional localities and 10 remote border towns. The program is currently expanding to include 24 metropolitan sub-catchment sites.

The virus enters wastewater through drains and toilets, and travels through the sewerage network as viral fragments.

There is no evidence that COVID-19 can be transmitted through wastewater, with studies showing the virus is deactivated by the treatment process.

The surveillance program is an important tool for early detection of COVID-19 in the community but cannot replace – other kinds of COVID-19 testing, including nose and throat swabs.

It is important that anyone who develops symptoms of COVID-19 (e.g. ;fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, loss of taste or smell), no matter how mild, is tested immediately and isolates until they get their result and symptoms have cleared.

It is vital that people do not become complacent and continue practising physical distancing and hand hygiene, and masks are to be worn in the Perth, Peel, Southwest, Wheatbelt and Great Southern regions.

There is no impact to drinking water in the area.

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