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Sewer science: How scientists hope to track Covid-19 through the worlds waste

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Could the key to tracking the spread of Covid-19 lie in the worlds sewers? Scientists in the field of sewage surveillance, known as wastewater epidemiology, say testing human waste in sewer systems for Covid-19 could help detect and respond to new flare-ups of the virus.


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Research in a number of countries has shown that Covid-19 can be detected in sewage, including a study in Paris by the citys water authority which found a direct correlation between levels of the virus in the sewers and the number of infections in the city.

And as cities across the world emerge from lockdown, tracking the rate of Covid-19 in the sewers could provide an early warning if rates of infection begin to rise again.

“Most people know that you emit lots of virus through respiratory particles and droplets in the lungs. But actually whats lesser known is that you actually emit more small viral particles in faeces than you do from the lungs. So, basically were using that. Basically tracking peoples toilet movements,” Davey Jones, professor of environmental science at Bangor University in Wales told Reuters.

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