19 November 2021

COVID-19 wastewater testing program in Kununurra and Halls Creek

WA Health has implemented a wastewater surveillance program in the East Kimberley in response to the evolving situation in the Northern Territory.

The first wastewater samples were collected at Kununurra early yesterday, taken to PathWest for testing and returned negative results today (November 19). Wastewater sampling will commence at Halls Creek on 20 November 2021.

The WA Department of Health’s Deputy Chief Health Officer, Dr Paul Armstrong said the benefit of wastewater testing was that results may provide an early warning of undiagnosed COVID-19 in the community.

“Specifically, samples may detect COVID-19 in the community that either hasn’t been diagnosed yet, or from people who have recently recovered from the disease and are no longer infectious,” Dr Armstrong said.

He said wastewater testing at treatment plants in the area would take place four times a week over the next fortnight and then reviewed, taking into account the COVID-19 situation in the NT at the time.

“Targeted wastewater surveillance in high-risk areas can provide additional information about COVID-19 in these locations and forms an integral part of the ongoing public health pandemic response,” he said.

The WA SARS-CoV-2 wastewater surveillance program is a collaboration between the WA Department of Health, Water Corporation and PathWest.


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