COVID19: Larnaca wastewater reveals virus trends

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A higher concentration of traces of COVID-19 genetic material was found in Larnaca’s wastewater system between March and April than in May to June, the town’s Sewerage Board announced on Thursday.

April covered the third national lockdown with high infection rates, while cases subsided in June before the current fourth wave began.

Concentrations of the SARS-CoV-2 virus genetic material traces found in the Larnaca municipal Processing Waste Water plant are systematically monitored by the Nireas International Water Research Center of the University of Cyprus (Nireas-IWRC), in collaboration with the Larnaca Sewerage and Drainage Board.

The study aims to monitor the pandemic’s course in the Larnaca community.

The results are then compared with the data of the epidemiological department of the Ministry of Health with the help of the Medical Statistical Epidemiological and Public Health Laboratory of the University of Cyprus’ Medical School.

The results indicate that greater concentrations of traces of the virus’ genetic material were detected in the town’s wastewater in March and April compared to May and June 2021.

National cases peaked at 941 in April but fell to two-digit figures by June.

Sewage water testing has been used extensively in the past to detect water-borne diseases like polio and typhoid.

Research has shown that people excrete viral particles through faeces and urine well before they display COVID-19 symptoms.

The method is viewed as a valuable tool to identify sites prone to a potential outbreak.

By testing sewage across various localities, health authorities have, in the past, been able to detect the presence of coronavirus in clusters long before patients began pouring into hospitals.