Scientists warn against neglecting presence of coronavirus in sewage water

More studies and scientists are warning that the potential risk of coronavirus spread through sewage water should not be neglected.

More studies are being done after coronavirus was found in sewage in France, triggering more apprehensions across the world.

Now environmental biologists at the University of Stirling have warned about it.

Writing in the prestigious journal Environment International, Professor Richard Quilliam and team from Stirling’s Faculty of Natural Sciences are calling for “an investment of resources” to investigate their concerns.

“We know that COVID-19 is spread through droplets from coughs and sneezes, or via objects or materials that carry infection. However, it has recently been confirmed that the virus can also be found in human faeces – up to 33 days after the patient has tested negative for the respiratory symptoms of COVID-19.

“It is not yet known whether the virus can be transmitted via the faecal-oral route, however, we know that viral shedding from the digestive system can last longer than shedding from the respiratory tract. Therefore, this could be an important – but as yet unquantified – pathway for increased exposure,” he said.

Another study medRxiv* in May 2020 and done in Italy also showed that the virus may be present in wastewater and rivers. But the biological agent is typically devoid of vitality and unable to cause active infection.

In Paris, a study done over one month, found rise and fall in novel coronavirus concentrations that correspond to the shape of the COVID-19 outbreak in the region. “This visibility is also going to help us predict a second wave of outbreaks,” says Sébastien Wurtzer, a virologist at Eau de Paris, the city’s public water utility.


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