Virus hunters turn to sewage to detect Covid-19 hotspots and more alternative methods
When the country is adopting the habits of wearing face masks with the rise in the case of coronavirus hitting the mark of 18 million today. Simultaneously researchers from all over the world are working to able to develop the vaccine by the end of this year so that it can be approved for public use. During the research, Dutch Scientist in the month of March they identified the evidence of pathogens earlier than even testing the patients, that is, the signs of coronavirus, in the city’s wastewater. Although it was unlikely that the sewage will become an important route of transmission, but the pathogens increasing circulations in the communities will in turn increase the amount of flowing into the sewer system.
Wearing face shields masks, navy cotton overalls, and two layers of gloves – two scientists lifted the metal manhole and saw the cumulative waste of about 400 migrant workers. One of the scientists lower the yellow rubber tube to the sewer, it took place outside a dormitory in central Singapore. The samples of brownish liquid in the sewer clearly shows how the city-state is trying to keep ahead of coronavirus.
Wastewater surveillance is one of the strategies being developed around the world n order to find out the emerging hotspots and flare-ups that brings such a huge outbreak in the world. This is the best method of detecting poliovirus and antibiotic-resistant bacteria, as well as the use of illicit and prescription medications. It is important to collect information to understand if there is no risk to sewage workers. And, there is a need for surveillance to monitor the circulation of the virus in our communities. Therefore, the signs of the virus in the sewer system is an early warning of the emergence and re-emergence of the Covid-19 in the cities
So if you think that the community has no COVID, then you need to re-think because if it is found in the wastewater. Then it is definitely there somewhere!
Meanwhile, countries are working in their own ways to find out a hole to get out of all this situation and hunt down this insidious virus. For example, Australia and Spain are struggling to arrest fresh waves of contagion whereas scientists and public health are taking the help of additional tools like tracker dogs and drones.
The nature of this virus is that it shows symptoms days after the person had already transmitted. It is a frustrating effort to stem down the transmission from the infected person, which means, testing, isolation, and then tracing the person who has been in contact. Due to the rise in cases, forcing the government to impose economically-crippled restrictions again and testing citizens’ tolerance wrought by the pandemic.
The stealthiness in the virus shows that it is difficult to find ways to deal it with traditional surveillance. Therefore, monitoring wastewater is a useful way to find the pathogens before it can travel to various communities. It is not possible for the doctors to easily shed the virus from the respiratory systems of an infected person. As the doctors and researchers do not have any prior knowledge about how this virus spreads in the body. It can be anywhere, maybe in their urine and feces, may be entered during the incubation period. And sometimes after nose and throat tests are no longer positive for the virus.
With the help of the surveillance in wastewater, the communities can be warned early so that the authorities can start increasing restrictions on people and their movements. It will serve as an early warning system. If we do it early, like putting restrictions 10 days before on community that is likely to be affected according to the warning system there will be less of an outbreak. However, wastewater is the blunt tool that can’t be helpful in the places where the virus is circulating widely as it is harder to detect pathogens if the toilets were cleaned with chlorine and other disinfectants.
Now as we enter the seventh month of the pandemic, the strict social distancing rules are harder to enforce now in some places after easing the lockdown, particularly among young people. The second time is always less effective than the first time. For instance, the second lockdown in the Australian city of Melbourne has been proved less effective than the first one as some started to defy the restrictions and other people follows them.
The sewage warning system has been adopted by many countries. Wuhan, the Chinese city where the first cases of this virus emerged they are routinely working on wastewater testing and cleaning. And in mid-June, they claimed that there are no traces of the virus in the sewer system. Singapore is also continuously working on the testing and monitoring of their wastewater, it was triggered due to the cases emerged among migrant workers – which actually led the case tally beyond 52,000. Since then the testing of wastewater has been expanded.
The other alternatives used to detect the person infected with coronavirus without the upfront testing is by using sniffer dogs. Countries like Germany, the UK, France, Finland, and Australia are training the tracker dogs to sniff out the person infected with the virus using the animal’s Ultra-sensing nose to detect the metabolic changes in the body which the normal person cannot detect.
Meanwhile, researchers are also working on “pandemic drones” using digital technologies. It will have special features and computer vision with high sensors capabilities that can detect the signs of respiratory infections in the body. They will mainly be used in offices, residential areas, or places where a group of people may work.
Most of these alternatives method aims to seek out vestiges of the viruses in the places but cannot be used where the illness had been spread widely.
However, the combination of active monitoring and early warning is, for now, the only way to get control of the stealthy virus as the world anxiously awaits the development of safe and effective vaccines!