Waste water plants to start testing for presence of coronavirus

An ambitious new project got underway this week to start testing the country’s ‘waste waters’ processed through ETARs (waste water treatment plants) to check for the presence of the new coronavirus SARS-CoV-2.

According to the ministry of environment and climatic action, this will be another way to assess how much of the population is being affected by the virus – and will create an “early warning system”, to help authorities prepare for new outbreaks.

The situation right now, explains Lusa, is that it is “impossible to test the whole population” for infection. Thus monitorisation of ETARs “could be an important tool” alerting authorities to the spread of the virus within a determined community.

For now, the project – coordinated by Águas de Portugal and in its first phase – is being carried out in five ETARs for the next six months.

Lusa does not explain which ETARs are involved, but it suggests they will be in areas close to “hospitals of reference for infectious diseases and areas of higher population density”.

The project involves other water treatment concerns (EPAL, SIMDOURO and Águas do Tejo Atlântico) as well as various scientific departments of the University of Lisbon and the DGS health directorate.