Sewage can reveal COVID outbreaks, UK project finds | Inquirer Technology
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Sewage can reveal COVID outbreaks, UK project finds

/ 02:12 PM October 23, 2020

FILE PHOTO: The ultrastructural morphology exhibited by the 2019 Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCoV), which was identified as the cause of an outbreak of respiratory illness first detected in Wuhan, China, is seen in an illustration released by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) in Atlanta, Georgia, U.S. January 29, 2020. Alissa Eckert, MS; Dan Higgins, MAM/CDC/Handout via REUTERS.

LONDON — Traces of COVID-19 can be successfully detected in sewage, helping to give health officials an early warning of local outbreaks of the virus, the British government said on Friday.

A project, originally launched in June, has now proved that fragments of genetic material from the virus can be detected in waste water, indicating if a local community or institution is experiencing a spike in cases.

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The government said this would allow health officials to identify large outbreaks especially where there were carriers not displaying any symptoms and to encourage people to get tested or take precautions.

“This is a significant step forward in giving us a clearer idea of infection rates both nationally and locally, particularly in areas where there may be large numbers of people who aren’t showing any symptoms and therefore aren’t seeking tests,” Environment Secretary George Eustice said.

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The sewage-testing project has been working successfully in southwest England and has now been extended to 90 wastewater sites covering 22% of England, the government said, adding it aimed to expand it in future.

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TOPICS: Coronavirus Pandemic, COVID-19, London United Kingdom, sewage-testing project, waste matter
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