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article imageFirst rapid, on-site COVID-19 wastewater testing solution

By Tim Sandle     Oct 22, 2020 in Science
A science-based collaboration between LuminUltra, Dalhousie University and Halifax Water has demonstrated that wastewater data provides a tool for the early detection and tracking COVID-19 prevalence within communities.
The reason why wastewater testing provides an indication of coronavirus spread is because those infected with coronavirus shed the virus in their feces. Not only can this provide an indication of the extent of the virus (in terms of the number of viral particles per titre), it also stands that people shed the virus prior to beginning displaying symptoms.
The theory runs that if officials detect a spike, that allows them to take early action and to proceed to test individuals in a designated area. This also enables health authorities to identify whether people have become infected and need to be isolated.
The assessment, based on recent data, shows that the viral particles in wastewater can remain infectious for up to 2 days at 20 °C.. Data further suggests that if an individual was exposed to untreated wastewater within two days of viral shedding may potentially cause infections. Furthermore, conventional wastewater treatment processes, if they are operating correctly, can be configured to remove or inactivate virus particles in wastewater.
As an example, in Canada, around 5 a.m. scientists based in Ottawa receive samples of the previous day’s sewage. These samples are tested for traces of the coronavirus in wastewater. These samples are pooled, in terms of relating to hundreds of thousands of residents.
As well as continuous monitoring, assessing archived samples will also be of importance for tracking spread and for phylogenetic analysis of viral sequences, which can help with seeing the extent that the virus mutates.
With the new technology, LuminUltra's wastewater testing solution uses a rapid and portable PCR device, of a types used in clinical diagnostic testing. While conventional solutions around the world can take days or weeks, LuminUltra's solution examines multiple samples on-site within 90 minutes. This type of rapid technology can help to accelerate wastewater coronavirus surviellance.
More about Wastewater, Covid19, coronavirus
 
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