COVID-19 Tracking in Wastewater

wastewater tracking

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The world is being hit by the epidemic of COVID-19,a virus of the coronavirus family that is keeping all institutions in check.

One of the main challenges we face as a society is the early detection of cases and knowing the epideomyological evolution that the population is going through.

One of the ways to know the epidemiological situation in a simple way, for the entire population or residential complex is through the analysis of wastewater.


Wastewater control due to the COVID-19 epidemic


The origin of the control of wastewater for the detection of COVID-19 has the origin in which the virus leaves a trace in our body,even if the person is totally asymptomatic, and it is eliminated by human secretions in the days of contagion and up to 20 days later. During these days the body eliminates the RNAof the virus, so that we can detect in the wastewater the presence of these RNA fragments.

COVID-19 RNA detection is a help method that can determine the level of contagion of a community, whether it is a city or urbanization, and even notify health authorities if the virus reappears.

The first tests and scientific studies to evaluate the presence of COVID-19 in wastewater took place already in the months of February and March (2020),in the Netherlands by the prestigious Water Research Institute (KWR).

The presence of COVID-19 RNA in wastewater does not imply that the virus has the capacity to replicate in wastewater or that it has infectious capacity. Wastewater analysis is also carried out by specialized water analysis laboratories,such as ours, in which the most demanding safety measures are followed in order to avoid the contagion and spread of the virus.

However, we cannot say that the virus because it is in water loses its infectious capacity. In fact, we are aware that this is not the case. That is why it is advisable to take extreme precautions in the treatment of wastewater with a company specialized in wastewater treatment,like us.

The virus can remain in the water for some time, so health authorities have advised against summer bathing in calm waters such as swamps and lakes. More if we take into account that even they could reach discharges without treatment, because the population centers lack WWTPs,the existence of uncontrolled discharges or even the bathroom of people infected with the virus. Do not hesitate to take extreme precautions in this regard.


rastreo de covid-19 en aguas residuales


The detection of COVID-19 in water and community tracking strategy: a smart bet.


The analysis of COVID-19 in wastewater only in order to determine if there is contagion within a community, such as in a city or in a residential area. In fact the analysis of wastewater in a residential area or in smaller municipalities, although it is not a tool that is used at the national level because of the low value in absolute terms for the whole, it is a very valuable tool for local authorities or for the community in order to detect if there are cases of COVID-19 among residents.

We could even complement the analysis of wastewater, in order to detect if there are infected with tests in pool. Through this strategy, if there are positives in the municipality or in the urbanization, pool testints are carried out through streets or more delimited areas.

What is pool testing? Performing COVID-19 PCR tests by taking the swab samples in a set of individuals and introducing the mimas into a liquid that unifies the samples showing if there are traces of COVID-19 as a whole. In this way, many costs related to the performance of PCR are saved since a single PCR is performed for each of the population subsets to which the test is performed. Subsequently, in the case of a positive in each of these subsets, we would perform individualized tests.

It is a strategy similar to that followed in air travel for entry into many countries, such as Chile and the United States.

The analysis of wastewater however has some important limitation today, due to the novelty of the situation, such as that it can not accurately determine the number of infected people sinceand does not know the amount of COVID-19 RNA that can be generated by each infected.

However, we can take some references by pure comparison of situations. That is, if we know the level of infection or number of infected that existed on a certain date we could infer if we find a similar number of infected, much lower or much higher. Such a conclusion is a mere inference that may depend on many other variables such as the restriction of movements by government authorities. Despite the limitations of information, some information is better; although limited, that no information.


The safety of the water cycle against the transmission of COVID-19


The presence of traces of virus RNA in the wastewater does not imply that the water is a vector of contagion. In fact, even in wastewater, it is believed and maintained by the WHO, the virus is inactivated because coronaviruses are not very resistant to environmental conditions. However, these waters must be treated.

As for the water cycle, there is no risk for contagion, as long as the water is treated properly. The water that presents the greatest risk for contagion is bathing water, if it is not treated correctly, since it is maintained for prolonged periods. That is why it is important to have the precise technology that allows the dosage of chlorine in a constant and uniform way, thus eliminating any possibility of contagion.

If you have any questions, you can ask us for more information, either for advice about your pool, spa,water analysis or discharges and especially for wastewater treatment. Let’s take care of people’s health and the environment! We are healthy in it.