The National Institute for Communicable Diseases (NICD) said that regardless of whether they are symptomatic or not, people infected with Covid-19 can shed the virus in their feces.
The NICD said global experience is showing that coronavirus levels in sewage reflect the disease burden in the community.
Variants of Covid-19 can be identified in wastewater through the detection of single-nucleotide polymorphisms (SNPs) specific to each variant.
SARS-CoV-2 is shelved by symptomatic and asymptomatic people in stool but is not transmitted via the fecal-oral route or through wastewater.
The NICD recently launched a dashboard that allows the public to access surveillance data related to the detection of Covid-19 in wastewater in South Africa.
Executive Director Professor Adrian Puren said the technology is impressive.
“It enables public health decision makers and policy makers to make informed and timely decisions that can be hugely beneficial to communities.”
Puren said the dashboard was developed to allow users to view the Covid-19 concentration detected at each wastewater treatment plant, in real time.
“In addition, trends in SARS-CoV-2 wastewater levels can also be monitored at various times, along with the number of laboratory-confirmed cases in the sub-district where these wastewater plants are located.
“In addition to monitoring community-wide disease transmission, the dashboard also acts as an early warning sign for potential outbreaks,” adds Puren.
The dashboard shows the Covid-19 levels of 87 wastewater treatment plants across all provinces.
The NICD said the wastewater treatment plants are tested by the institution and its collaborating partner laboratories, collectively known as the South African Collaborative COVID-19 Environmental Surveillance System (SACCESS).
To view and interact with the dashboard, Click here
On Monday, South Africa identified 3,237 new cases of Covid-19 in the past 24 hours.
This brings the total number of laboratory confirmed cases to 3,844,625 and represents a positivity rate of 18.7%.
The country also reported 10 deaths and of these, 4 occurred in the past 24-48 hours. This brings total casualties to 100,533 to date.