Manhole cover for sewer, sewage. (Pixabay)

B.C. to begin to test sewage to find clues about where COVID-19 has spread

Health officials say pilot project has begun in Vancouver

As part of its search to detect the novel coronavirus in communities across B.C., the province has turned to an unusual place: sewage sampling.

Health officials said Tuesday (June 23) that the province was looking for the RNA, or the genetic material of SARS-CoV-2, which caused COVID-19. The RNA from the virus can be shed in feces.

Part of the inspiration for the project, which is being worked on by the B.C. Centre for Disease Control along with other Canadian groups, comes from Italy. The country, which was among the hardest-hit by the pandemic, has tested sewage from December and found some samples tested positive for the virus.

Sewage sampling has been used to detect other viruses, like polio, and officials believe it could serve as a method to detect traces of the novel coronavirus especially in B.C.’s smaller communities.

Dr. Bonnie Henry said it was “another surveillance tool” to detect the presence of the virus.

So far, the project has been piloted in facilities in Vancouver, where it will test sewage both in that city and from parts of Surrey. No traces of the virus have been found in these samples so far, which health officials said could be a reassuring marker of how little COVID-19 there is in the city.

READ MORE: Testing wastewater could give early warning of second wave of COVID-19


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Want to support local journalism during the pandemic? Make a donation here.

Coronavirus

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

COVID-19: Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation asks Tofino businesses for support as emergency funding runs dry

“We need to pay for the work they do. It’s such important work.”

DFO says the five aggrieved B.C First Nations were consulted on fisheries plan

Nuu-chah-nulth First Nations calls response ‘a sham,’ adding DFO never incorporates their views

Three active COVID-19 cases on Vancouver Island

Since July 24, Central island has had five new cases, North one, South none

Canada can lead the way to save sharks from extinction, says fisheries expert

“Combined with fishing extraction numbers, sharks experience huge losses in the environment.”

Five Vancouver Island First Nations call out Canada for ‘discriminatory’ food fish practices

West Coast nations say government ignoring court-won right to chinook and coho

B.C. records new COVID-19 death, 85 more cases; Horgan calls on celebrity help

This brings the total number of active confirmed cases to 531 across the province

Old-growth forest defenders in Campbell River call for B.C. forest minister’s resignation

Protestors outside North Island MLA’s office ask government to stop old-growth logging

Teachers to get 2 extra days to prepare for students’ return, now set for Sept. 10

Students will first start with orientation and learn rules of COVID-19 classroom policies

High-volume littering at Cape Scott draws ire from hiking groups

Popular Vancouver Island hiking spot not closing, but frustration about crowding grows

SFU to drop ‘Clan’ varsity team name

The ‘Clan’ name is shortened from ‘Clansmen,’ and was introduced roughly 55 years ago

New Tory leader must build a strong team in Commons and for the campaign: Scheer

Scheer marked his final day in the House of Commons today as leader of the Opposition

B.C. to hire 500 more COVID-19 contact tracers ahead of fall

Contract tracers add an ‘extra layer’ in the fight against the novel coronavirus

More than $800,000 in suspected cocaine seized from ship near Victoria

RCMP Dive Team suspects more narcotics had been stored below ship’s waterline

Feds commit $305M in additional funds for Indigenous communities during COVID-19

Money can be used to battle food insecurity and support children and mental health

Most Read