Environment Commissioner Virginijus Sinkevičius on Sunday called on EU countries to monitor wastewater for COVID-19 over the next six months.
“It is crucial that EU countries set up effective sewage water monitoring systems as quickly as possible and ensure that the relevant data is made available to the responsible health authorities immediately,” Sinkevičius said in an interview published Sunday in German newspaper Welt am Sonntag.
Some countries and cities are already checking sewage water in their fight against the pandemic.
Ireland’s Health Service Executive said last week that a wastewater surveillance program was developed to track the prevalence of the virus in different areas. In the French riviera, a recent analysis of sewage water showed COVID-19 declining in the region.
“The monitoring of wastewater needs to be more systematically integrated into national test strategies to detect the virus, along with existing COVID-19 testing approaches,” said Sinkevičius. “It is an additional tool to follow developments and support the decision-making process of the public health authorities.”
The commissioner recommended that samples could be analyzed twice a month in the largest European cities, to detect the virus’ presence early or to indicate that the area is low risk.
In March last year, scientists found traces of the virus in a Dutch city’s wastewater before the first case was confirmed, Deutsche Welle reported.