The Institute of Environmental Science and Research (ESR) has developed a number of new techniques for testing wastewater in an effort to detect Covid 19.
Public Health Professor Philip Hill expressed concern about the test yesterday, saying there were doubts about its sensitivity and its ability to differentiate between viable and non-viable viruses.
“The sensitivity of wastewater testing is not clear,” he said.
“It basically can’t distinguish an incurable virus from a viable virus, in other words when you’re no longer contagious and you’re still getting rid of some of the viral particles that are present in some parts of the genome, then It’s still recognizable. Stay positive in dirty water. “
Brett Cowan, chief scientist at ESR, agreed that people could continue to shed the virus for a while, even weeks after they became infected, but the amount of virus they were spreading was normal. Is falling during this time.
But he said the sensitivity of wastewater testing is now better understood.
“We know that if we test outside Jet Park, Auckland’s quarantine facility, the water is always positive, but it’s a very simple matter. If we add a million people to this dirty water stream. And if we test at the end of this stream, we know that maybe if we have five or six positive people in this catchment, we’re probably going to find out. “
He said that there is only one tool in the wastewater test kit and at present the most important tool is contact tracing.
Quan said the wastewater test gives a broad image similar to that taken by a satellite.
“We can see a huge amount of New Zealand, up to 80% of it, but we see it at a slightly lower resolution.”
Cowan said tests are performed at the city level and unexpected positive results will require further investigation.
He said he would test more often in the first place, perhaps moving to the daily test.
“The other thing we’re going to do is check if the four main pipes in a particular city come into the treatment station. We’ll test them individually. More specific.”
Quan said that the number of viruses transmitted by people with Covid 19 is quite variable, with some people transmitting a few thousand viral particles while others have caused billions.
ESR scientists have been searching for viruses such as the norovirus in wastewater for years, Quan said.
What’s new, however, is that with a focus on Covid, there are many new techniques and approaches that we’re using for Covid that have improved the performance of this test.
This is an official Cowade 19 alert.
All New Zealand. Coved 19 Alert is now at Level 4.
Alert levels will be assessed after 3 days for all areas except Auckland and Coromandel Peninsula, which are likely to remain at 4 levels for an initial period of 7 days.
A community case of Covid 19 has been identified.
Stay at home Where possible, follow the Alert Level 4 instructions. This will stop the spread of Covid 19 and save lives.
All are requested:
Wear a mask whenever you leave the house and keep a distance of 2 meters from others.
If you are sick, call your doctor or health line on 0800 358 5453 for a test.
Keep scanning QR codes whenever you leave your home.
Follow good hygiene – wash your hands often.
Services including supermarkets, pharmacies, clinics and petrol stations will remain open at Alert Level 4. Covering the face is a must for everyone – both employees and customers – on businesses and services that involve customer interaction.
Go to Alert Level 4 for more information. [the government website www.covid19.govt.nz]
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What he said – stay strong.