Sewage providing information on coronavirus outbreaks

A government project is being used to detect traces of coronavirus in sewage. 

The programme has been operational since June and has proven that fragments of genetic material from the virus can be detected in wastewater. This can show where a local community or institution is experiencing a spike in cases.

The results can give local health professionals a clearer picture of infection rates by identifying where there are high numbers, allowing them to take early action to slow the spread of the virus. Data will be shared with NHS Test and Trace to flag up where new outbreaks may be occurring.

Testing is currently being used across more than 90 wastewater treatment sites in the UK, with plans to expand. 

Image credit | Shutterstock
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