The virus that causes Covid-19 has been detected for the first time in wastewater across the whole country.
It was detected in all wastewater catchment areas that are part of a surveillance programme to monitor Covid’s spread.
SARS-CoV-2 was present in wastewater tested at 66 locations from which weekly samples were taken and analysed in the week commencing August 15, a Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC) report said.
“These results are in keeping with the high incidence rate of Covid-19 current being seen throughout Ireland,” it said.
It noted the number of wastewater catchment areas testing positive for the coronavirus has increased gradually from 13 in early May to its current level.
The HPSC said higher levels of the virus in wastewater suggest more people are infected in the catchment area but it said it was difficult to reliably estimate the number of people infected within individual catchment areas.
Results show a sharp spike in the levels of the virus found at a large number of locations in recent weeks with 30 treatment plants recording the highest levels to date in the seven-day period.
These were: Balbriggan, Longford, Portrane/Donabate, Ballincollig, Cork Lower Harbour, Swords, Carrickmacross. Birr, Sligo and Cork City.
Castlebar, Thurles, Dundalk, Manorhamilton, Tralee, Fermoy, Monksland, Tramore, Galway City, Mullingar and Tullamore were included.
Others were Greystones, Navan, Virginia, Kilkenny, Killarney, Portarlington, Portlaoise, Waterford and Youghal.
The HPSC said the surveillance programme was likely to be of greatest value when the circulation of the virus and testing rates are lower.
It may also be of value in monitoring the presence of variants as these emerge, the HPSC said. It also said human waste or wastewater are not recognised sources of transmission of the virus.
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