Media release – Department of Health, 20 April 2021
COVID wastewater testing begins in Tasmania
Wastewater surveillance testing for fragments of COVID-19 in the state’s sewer systems started this week with the first results due this weekend.
Under the testing program 12 sewage treatment plants will be sampled weekly and 10 will be sampled monthly. The sampled sites cover areas which include entry points to the state and major population centres.
The initial six-month program will see samples sent to South Australia for testing, while Tasmania develops an in-state testing capability.
The project will enlist the support of TasWater for sample collection and dispatch as part of its existing sampling regime.
Deputy Director of Public Health, Dr Julie Graham said if detection of harmless virus fragments occurred it did not necessarily mean there are active cases of COVID-19 in Tasmania.
“Wastewater testing does not distinguish between viral material from someone who is currently infectious and someone who has recovered from their illness and continues to shed the virus.
“In the event of a positive reading the advice remains the same,” Dr Graham said.
“If you have symptoms get tested. It is important that we all remain alert and continue to practice good COVID safe behaviours.
“Participation in this national program will mean we are better equipped to respond to a case or an outbreak in the community and appropriately allocate resources where they are required.”
The Tasmanian program is part of an Australia-wide scheme known as the Collaboration on Sewage Surveillance Project which is being led by Water Research Australia.
Results will be published weekly on the Tasmanian Coronavirus website.
For more information about the wastewater testing project go to: https://coronavirus.tas.gov.au/wastewater.
If you are concerned about drainage problems and blockages, always seek professional advice without delay.