Covid-19: Two positive results on wastewater in Te Awamutu, “we must pay attention”


There have been two positive results for Covid-19 sewage in as many days this week in Te Awamutu, and it is not yet clear why.

An epidemiologist said that while it could be a recovered case still shedding the virus, residents need to take the positive detection seriously given the 37 community cases in Waikato and the region’s proximity to Auckland.

Sewage samples taken at Te Awamutu on Tuesday and Wednesday both tested positive for the Covid-19 virus, the health ministry confirmed on Friday.

“Public health officials have yet to identify anyone who has returned to the area after being isolated and quarantined and may shed the virus in the area,” the ministry said.

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The Department of Health urges anyone showing symptoms of the virus to get tested.

“For this reason, anyone in the Te Awamutu region who is showing symptoms of Covid-19, or whose family or household members are symptomatic, or anyone who regularly travels in and out of the region for work, is invited to be tested as soon as possible. as possible.

The ministry also asked anyone who was in a place of interest at the time of the incident and who is now in Te Awamutu to be tested.

University of Otago epidemiologist Professor Michael Baker said the sewage test is an early warning system and you need to take any results seriously and explore them further.

Baker said it was now a “pretty worn out path” for what would happen next – more testing on the sewage to see if the positive results are repeated, while still encouraging people to come forward and to get tested.

“The main problem, as we all know, is that people who have recovered continue to shed viral fragments, perhaps for weeks or months.”

Health officials also have limited knowledge of where people who have been infected in the past live, he said.

“Obviously there are a few thousand people in New Zealand who have recovered.”

Professor Michael Baker, University of Otago epidemiologist.

Ross Giblin / Stuff

Professor Michael Baker, University of Otago epidemiologist.

However, given the recent community cases in Waikato and the region’s proximity to Auckland, people should take these sewage findings seriously, Baker said.

He said “we know the borders are not perfect” so the people of Northland and Waikato will need to be careful for the foreseeable future.

“The cases are going to reach pretty high levels in Auckland, and it’s hard not to imagine that they will spread across the country over time.”

Waipā District Mayor Jim Mylchreest said the second positive sewage result in Te Awamutu is a wake-up call.

“I am blown away by the sensitivity of the tests, but they have been shown to be very accurate, so we have to pay attention to them,” he said.

“Which means there is another good reason, if we need another, to go out and get the shot.”

Mylchreest hopes people take part in Super Saturday and also continue to adhere to the level 3 alert rules.

“There is no point in ignoring the situation, there is no way our health care system can deal with it.

“Otherwise we’ll be at level 3 forever, hopefully we can drop to level 2 next week. “

A pop-up testing station was set up at the Te Awamutu Events Center across from the Te Awamutu Library in Selwyn Lane on Thursday after the news of the first sewage detection was announced.

Brent Gilpin, senior scientist at ESR, where wastewater samples are sent for testing, said a second detection of the virus in a wastewater sample would strongly indicate that someone in the watershed is excreting the virus.

Most of the Waikato region - including Te Awamutu - is at Alert Level 3, as shown on this map.

Aaron Wood / Stuff

Most of the Waikato region – including Te Awamutu – is at Alert Level 3, as shown on this map.

“If they have not yet been detected in clinical tests, we certainly encourage anyone showing symptoms or having been in contact with people outside the region to follow health advice and get tested,” said he declared.

“In the meantime, to offer the best chance of limiting the spread, it is best that everyone in the city treat everyone as potentially infected and take appropriate precautions such as wearing masks, keeping distance, and so on. . “

Te Awamutu is currently on Alert Level 3 with the majority of the Waikato region.

Covid-19 was also detected in a sample of Raglan wastewater on Tuesday. This follows earlier detections from samples taken last week.

Raglan has had 18 confirmed cases of Covid-19, according to Waikato DHB figures released Thursday afternoon. None were listed for Te Awamutu.

Other Waikato places of interest were listed on the ministry’s website on Friday, including Super Value Raglan on Bow Street and the public restrooms on Cliff Street in Raglan.


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