The Coronavirus pandemic has affected millions of lives all across the globe in the past few months of 2020. With no vaccine for the cure in the distant future, the health authorities and medical fraternity along with the government are taking strong measures to prevent the spread of the virus in the community. As the common symptoms of the Coronavirus like fever and dry cough take many days to show, it is a tedious task to control the pandemic. And at the same time, early detection and contact tracing has so far helped the authorities to curb the spread. It is high time that some advanced and innovative measures may be taken to protect the general population from the drastic effect of the disease. Along with the existing methods, looking at sewage water can turn the tide for detecting coronavirus in a region. Also, sewage water treatment can help prevent the disease. Let’s see how.
Various studies done across countries like Australia, the United States, France, Netherlands have found the Ribonucleic acid or RNA of the SARS-CoV-2 virus that causes Covid-19 in the wastew ater sample collected at various places. In India, a group of researchers in Jaipur showed the presence of SARS-CoV-2 viral genome in untreated wastewater sample collected from treatment plants and hospital wastewater. Furthermore, they tested the treated sample of wastewater and found no viral genome. Thus, it can be concluded that sewage treatment is highly effective in combating the spread of novel coronavirus which can spread through the oral-fecal transmission.
The sewage treatment contains three stages namely, primary, secondary and tertiary. It is in the secondary treatment method that microorganisms are used to degrade the solid waste. Once the wastewater reaches the tertiary stage, the chlorination process is followed. This is believed to be effective in eliminating the Coronavirus genome. Thus, it is necessary for the sewage treatment plant workers to be cautious and take maximum preventive measures to avoid contact with the sewage waste water containing the virus. It further necessitates the urgent need for robust sewage treatment plants as septic tanks are not enough.
As we already know the Coronavirus spreads through cough and sneeze. What we don’t know perhaps is that it can spread through the human waste of urine and poop. Thus, when infected individuals in a region uses bathroom for defecation, it reaches the sewage treatment plants in the area. Testing the sewage water sample can help the authorities to take proactive measures in controlling the spread immediately. Also, it is quite often observed that many coronavirus patients have asymptomatic symptoms. This means that they show no symptoms at first and therefore, the chance of infecting and spreading increases if that certain individual or group of individual goes out carelessly. This too can be prevented with sewage water testing at regular intervals. Because it has been reported that SARS-CoV-2 can appear in faeces within three days of infection against 14 day period for symptoms to appear.
The water-based epidemiology and sewage testing process has been carried out by scientists all over the world to inspect and detect the general health of the local population. It is often tested for medicines, pesticides, caffeine and other things to regularly check if some harmful chemicals has entered the food chain, or any pathogens are causing diseases in the community. Thus, it is very effective for detecting Coronavirus too.
Experts believe that when more genetic material is found it would mean that a large population in the area is infected. It is incredible because it makes planning and execution much more easier for the authorities. Typically, it takes a day or two get the results. The doctors can further quantify the viral RNA and calculate the people infected by analyzing RNA concentrations. Of course, there are challenges as well. It is necessary to set some kind of standard protocol for collecting samples and sending them for testing at regular intervals. This will help identify coronavirus clusters at a place. Also, the sewage water testing can complement the clinical testing too. Moreover, hot spots can be declared and containment process can be carried out as fast as possible. One of the major highlights of this method is that with one sample, an entire city, region or place can be analyzed for Coronavirus.
As the COVID-19 disease is new, scientists from all across the world are conducting various tests and trials to establish the efficacy of the methods. Same is the case with water-based epidemiology or sewage water testing. WHO has stated that it is not yet clear if the virus can be transmitted through water. But with all the information available, it seems obvious that it does. As mentioned before, there are several key procedures to establish the fact and more reviews to be done before this can be accepted as a common method throughout the globe. Considering the fact that Coronavirus has put immense pressure on health infrastructure and medical professionals, as more number of cases has demanded more testing, the sewage testing can be beneficial.
The Coronavirus situation can not said to be over until a vaccine is found. Therefore, there is always a chance for the second wave of infection. Thus, wastewater surveillance can be an easy and early warning tool at all times. It empowers the local health authorities as well. Also, as mentioned, the need for better sewage treatment solutions is the need of the hour. The sewage treatment plants at various places are malfunctioning due to a large amount of waste generated every day due to the increase in the urban population in the world. This has put undue stress on plants and thus reducing the effectiveness of the systems and processes at the place. This, in turn, means that there are high chances that pathogens found in the sewage waste are left untreated. There are natural, effective and eco-friendly solutions which can boost the productivity of sewage treatment plants. Organica Biotech’s range of products like Cleanmaxx ANB and Cleanmaxx are highly effective in degrading waste using powerful microbes. Visit for more details: www.organicabiotech.com.