Corona virus could find way in waste water – Research

The investigations conducted at various sewage treatment plants in the Netherlands revealed that when more people are infected in a city, more viruses enter the sewers through the stools.

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Corona virus could find way in waste waterCorona virus could find way in waste water

Corona virus is likely to find way in waste water if not well managed. Water quality research firm, KWR, has revealed that substances in urban sewage water, such as drugs, and coronavirus could find their way in sewage water through human waste from infected people.

The investigations conducted at various sewage treatment plants in the Netherlands revealed that when more people are infected in a city, more viruses enter the sewers through the stools.

“Our microbiologists suspected that they could also find the coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 from the stools of infected people in sewage water. What we want to know now is whether the virus is present in sewage water,” read part of the report.

According to KWR, the research was conducted mainly to get an indication of the number of virus infections in the population of a city by monitoring the levels of the virus in sewage water.

KWR suspect the reported figures underestimate the real number of COVID-19 patients since only COVID-19 patients with severe symptoms are tested in the hospital laboratories.

“With regular sewage measurements we could provide additional information on the circulation of viruses in the population. Using this method we might also be able to measure whether the number of virus infections in a city will increase again.”

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How research was conducted
Samples of sewage water entering the waste water treatment plants over 24 hours were taken.From the samples, the virus were extracted using methods that have been developed for other viruses which are transmitted via water, such as norovirus. The genetic material of the virus (RNA) was purified from the concentrate and very specifically test for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 virus genes.

“We do this using the RT-PCR method. To have more certainty that the virus is really present, we test against different gene fragments and multiple genes of the virus.”

The research detailed the findings and concluded that the coronavirus could potentially find way into waste water, raising concern on the possibility of the virus ending up in drinking water recycled from waste water treatment plants.

Drinking water safe
In another research, KWR microbiologist Gertjan Medema and his research, reveals that drinking water is well protected against those viruses that are known to be transmitted via water, such as, the Adeno-, Noro- and Enterovirus.

Drinking water utilities that produce their water from surface water sources have all set up multiple disinfection barriers for the purpose of removing bacteria, viruses and protozoa, which are also safeguarded by the Analysis of Microbial Safety of Drinking Water. Groundwater, in turn, is well protected in the subsurface against all microbial contaminants, including viruses.

Moreover, the strict hygiene regulations covering the installation of pipes and work on the distribution networks, ensure that the drinking water sector is well protected against all microbial contaminants and all viruses, including coronavirus.