A new study that examines the transmission of the novel Coronavirus by the University of Stirling in the UK noted that there was a “risk with waste water”.
Initially the discovery had not raised alarms, since it had been said that there was no risk of contagion.
But after the result of her research conducted on 8 wastewater samples collected from February 3 to 28 in the city of Milan and from March 31 to April 2 in Rome, Dr. Giuseppina La Rosa of the Environment and Health Department of the Higher Institute of Health, said: “In 2 samples collected in the sewerage system of the western and central-eastern area of Milan, the presence of RNA of the new Coronavirus was confirmed. In the case of Rome, the same positive result was found in all the samples taken in the eastern area of the city.”
Her claims, however, had not caused alarmism. “The result reinforces the prospects of using urban sewer water control as a non-invasive tool to detect the presence of infections in the population early,” responded the director of the ISS water quality and health department Luca Lucentini.
However, a more recent British study has completely overturned the initial belief, confronting the world with a new problem. In an article published in the journal Environment International, environmental biologists from the University of Stirling have advised governments not to overlook the phenomenon of a possible transmission of Coronavirus in wastewater.
Even infected water, therefore, can pose a risk of transmission. Dr. Richard Quilliam, who committed himself to the study, asked the British government to spend additional resources on investigating the case.
“Even if the sewage system could reveal useful information on the spread of the epidemic, it could also involve a fair risk of transmission,” said the scientist. “We know that Sars-CoV-2 is transmitted via objects or genetic material that carries the infection, it is not yet known whether the virus can be transmitted via the fecal-oral route, but recent studies have shown the presence of Covid-19 in feces, and the viral shedding of the digestive system can last longer than that of the respiratory tract.”
The researcher Manfred Weidmann and Dr. Vanessa Moresco also collaborated with Quilliam to carry out the study. “The main problem is that a significant percentage of patients with Coronavirus are asymptomatic, or exhibit very mild symptoms, for this there is a high risk of contagion. Lack of testing also makes it difficult to predict the scale of potential dissemination and the implications for public health,” said Weidmann. “The conformation of the virus also seems to suggest a different behavior of the disease in an aqueous environment. Some Coronaviruses can remain active in wastewater for about 14 days, depending on the environmental conditions,” added the scientist.
Of particular concern, are those areas where adequate hygienic conditions do not exist. In that case, the risk would even be very high. Experts have been urging countries to act quickly.
“At a time when the world is so concentrated on intervening on the respiratory tract, since it is a respiratory virus, one should not overlook the possibility that Sars-Cov-2 can also spread through the fecal-oral route,” they concluded.