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CoronaVirus - National - April 20, 2020

India testing possibilities of COVID-19 circulation through sewage water

While it will take months for the scientists to develop a vaccine for the new COVID-19 diseases, experts are taking various steps necessary to analyse and measure the extent of the infectious disease. Along with the increase in rapid antibody testing, scientific experts are exploring the possibilities of circulation of the virus through sewage water. Scientists and researchers from across the world are testing sewage samples to track the viruses and infectious bacteria excreted through human urine and fences.

These tests will be conducted to establish a relationship between the sewage water viruses and COVID-19 disease that is caused by Sars-CoV2. Medical researchers have detected samples of the virus from the respiratory tract to the faeces in many cases. Few patients have shown gastrointestinal symptoms after being infected with the disease, leading to the presence of the virus in their stools.

According to experts, as the COVID-19 symptoms take 3-14 days to appear in human beings, it leads to a delay in the diagnosis of the infected patients. The sewage samples, therefore, can help in early detection of the extend of the carrier of the virus. Therefore, this discovery implies the need to monitor and test the sewage samples for better understanding of the reach of COVID-19 disease. As per scientists, tracking the silent transmission of novel coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater can help to establish an early warning system to alert the public health community about the frequency of the virus.

While there is little known about the presence of Coronavirus in sewage water, the pandemic serves as an opportunity to test the possibilities. Some countries have already begun monitoring sewage water for COVID-19. India has used sewage monitoring in the past to track polio and non-polio viruses, therefore, India has the potential to expand beyond its horizons to conduct effective monitoring and studies.

There are over 40 sewage sampling sites with trained professionals spread across the country to carry out the task. Besides this, the Central government is also planning to diversify its random testing in areas with no reported Coronavirus cases, using a combination of RT-PCR (Reverse transcription-polymerase chain reaction).

Meanwhile, the number of Coronavirus confirmed cases in India has crossed 17,000 with over 500 reported deaths. Out of the total infected cases more than 2,500 people have recovered from the disease. The country is under a nationwide lockdown which was extended by Prime Minister Narendra Modi on April 14 till May 3.

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