The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said regardless of whether or not they are symptomatic, people infected with Covid-19 can shed the virus in their faeces.
The NICD said global experience is showing that the levels the coronavirus in wastewater reflect the burden of disease in the community.
Variants of Covid-19 can be identified in wastewater through detection of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) that are specific to each variant.
SARS-CoV-2 is shed from symptomatic and asymptomatic persons in stool but is not transmitted by the faecal-oral route nor via wastewater.
The NICD recently launched a dashboard that enables the public to access surveillance data concerning Covid-19 detection in wastewater in South Africa.
Executive Director Professor Adrian Puren said the technology is impressive.
“It enables public health decision-makers and policymakers to make informed and timely decisions that can be tremendously beneficial to communities.”
Puren said the dashboard was developed to enable users to view the concentration of Covid-19 detected in each wastewater treatment facility, in real time.
“Moreover, trends in the wastewater levels of SARS-CoV-2 across various time points can also be monitored, alongside the number of laboratory confirmed cases in the sub- district where these wastewater plants are situated.
“In addition to monitoring disease transmission at community level, the dashboard also serves as an early warning signal for potential outbreaks,” Puren adds.
The dashboard displays Covid-19 levels from 87 wastewater treatment facilities across all the provinces.
The NICD said the wastewater treatment plants are tested by the institute and its collaborating partner laboratories, collectively known as the South African Collaborative COVID-19 Environmental Surveillance System (SACCESS).
To view and interact with the dashboard, click here.
On Monday, South Africa identified 3,237 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours.
This brings the total number of laboratory-confirmed cases to 3.844,625 and represents an 18.7% positivity rate.
The country also reported 10 deaths, and of these, 4 occurred in the past 24 – 48 hours. This brings the total fatalities to 100,533 to date.
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