04 December 2021

Wastewater testing for COVID-19 expanded to more East Kimberley communities

WA Health is continuing its COVID-19 wastewater surveillance program in Kununurra and Halls Creek in the East Kimberley and is considering the merits of expanding water sampling to additional communities.

The first wastewater samples were collected at Kununurra on November 18, and wastewater sampling began at Halls Creek on November 20. All results have been negative so far.

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 is 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 East Kimberley was taking place twice a week, considering the COVID-19 situation in the Northern Territory.

“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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