It is not possible to test the entire country’s population individually for the new coronavirus using test devices. Also, not all patients necessarily show symptoms of the virus. An expert at the University of the Free State (UFS) believes sewage can now be used to test people in groups for COVID-19.
“What is known to scientists, but is not yet clear to the public, is that the virus is present in human waste. It is known as viral shedding and it is also now known to lead to a detectable presence in both urine and faeces until a patient shows symptoms and after the patient is treated, ”Dr. Anthony Turton of the Center for Environmental Management at the UFS said in a statement on Tuesday.
Turton pointed out that there are 824 wastewater treatment plants in South Africa that collect sewage from different areas or suburbs.
“By taking sewage samples according to a clearly defined protocol, it is now technically possible to determine the viral load of the entire population in the catchment area of that specific sewer. This data can be compared on a weekly basis and it can be determined whether the total viral load is increasing or decreasing, ”Turton said.
He explains that it is possible to detect small elements of the virus found in human waste in sewers.
According to Turton, samples are taken at the inlet of wastewater works where raw sewage is mixed. Therefore, samples can be taken on specific pipelines coming from different neighborhoods to obtain more accurate data.
Turton explains that it is therefore not possible to test persons individually for Covid-19 by means of sewage, but that this method of testing can help to paint a picture of the total viral load that occurs at a particular time at a particular time. group of people.
“It’s an easy way to collect data on the rate of change and specific epicentres of change or probable focal points.”
According to Turton, the method of testing is currently used in the Netherlands and is now being implemented in other developed countries.