London joins pilot project testing wastewater for coronavirus

An open sewer grate is seen in a stock photo. Getty Images

The City of London is participating in a study to test the city’s wastewater for evidence of the novel coronavirus.

From July 16 to July 19, daily samples were taken from the Greenway Wastewater Treatment Plant, which treats 60 per cent of London’s wastewater.

The test is meant to provide an early indicator if cases are increasing in the community.

“This is an exciting and innovative technology available to London,” says Scott Mathers, director of water and wastewater at the City of London.

“These early results are encouraging and will provide the Middlesex-London Health Unit and London’s hospitals’ additional information to help fight the virus.”

Read more: Dundas Place to close to vehicles on weekends to help economic recovery

Story continues below advertisement

The samples were analyzed by a team led by R. Michael McKay, executive director and professor at the Great Lakes Institute for Environmental Research at the University of Windsor.

The project follows a similar framework used globally that the city says has produced promising results for early detection of potential community infection.

The pilot project will continue this week as part of the City of London and Middlesex-London Health Unit’s participation in the Canadian Coalition on Wastewater-Related COVID-19 Research.

The initiative is a national collaboration of municipalities, utilities, scientists, public health agencies and governments, led by the Canadian Water Network.

So far, the samples yielded no evidence of the genetic signal of the virus that causes COVID-19; however, the City of London said this does not mean the virus is no longer in the community.

The process of monitoring wastewater for the virus is still new, so residences are reminded to continue to maintain physical distancing and follow all social gathering guidelines to help stop the spread of COVID-19.

Sponsored content