Testing for COVID-19 in Anglesea sewage continues

October 15, 2020 BY

The detection of COVID-19 in Anglesea’s sewage led to a testing blitz in the town.

THE Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS) continues to test sewage in Anglesea for coronavirus but has not yet found any positive cases in the town.
DHHS deputy secretary Jeroen Weimar said the testing in Anglesea was part of 37 sampling sites across Victoria that were being tested on a weekly basis.
He said there had been two consecutive weekly positive traces in Anglesea, and the first result led to a testing drive, with 316 people coming forward over five or six days to be tested.
However, no positive cases have been detected, and Mr Weimar said there were two theories to explain the presence of coronavirus in Anglesea’s sewage: either a person who had recovered from coronavirus and was now “shedding” the virus, or someone who was positive but had not been tested.
He said the sewage testing was another way the DHHS was tracking the spread of the virus across the state.
“As we saw in Anglesea and Apollo Bay, it’s a really good way to prompt people to come forward if we think we might have some elevated risk in a particular locality.”
Although many regional areas have not had a coronavirus case for weeks, if not months, Mr Weimar said there was a risk of complacency.
“As the local memory of positive cases starts to recede, people start to think that it’s over, and Kilmore (where a Melbourne worker travelled to the regional town and unknowingly spread the virus) shows it’s not over.
“Kilmore will be an illustration for how quickly the virus can be reintroduced into communities that haven’t seen it for weeks on end, and also the value of all the measures we’ve put in place – contact tracing, masks, good hand hygiene.”
The DHHS has also started surveillance testing of Victoria’s meat, poultry, and fish industries as well as supermarket distribution, and aims to test about a quarter of the workforce each week.
To assist with this, the department is starting to use saliva testing. Instead of a nasal swab, people only need to suck on a saliva straw for about 10 seconds.
“We’re excited about the opportunities for saliva testing, particularly for surveillance,” Mr Weimar said.
“Even if it doesn’t have the absolute accuracy of the nasal swab, we think it’s pretty close, and a much less intrusive way of undertaking regular samples in a surveillance environment.”
For more information about when and where to get tested, head to dhhs.vic.gov.au/getting-tested.

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