Viral fragments of COVID found in Ipswich wastewater
VIRAL fragments of COVID-19 have been found in sewage at an Ipswich treatment plant with the discovery being labelled as particularly concerning after weeks without a case related to a local cluster.
Queensland Health said routine wastewater testing conducted last week has now returned a positive result at the Carole Park facility.
The areas serviced by the treatment plant include suburbs such as Springfield, Camira and Carole Park in Ipswich and Ellen Grove in Brisbane.
The sample was taken on October 22 as part of a joint research program between Queensland Health, University of Queensland and CSIRO to test sewage for traces of the virus.
Sampling has been undertaken at 18 locations around the state since the middle of July.
Queensland recorded two new cases of coronavirus on Wednesday; two overseas travellers in their 40s who are both in hotel quarantine in Cairns.
Chief health officer Dr Jeannette Young said while positive results have been reported at several areas across Queensland in recent weeks, the result in Ipswich was particularly concerning.
"Positive results from a month ago were most likely caused by virus shedding from a case that was no longer infectious," she said.
"Viral shedding can occur for several weeks after recovery from COVID-19.
"We are uncertain about the cause of the positive result.
"We have had several weeks worth of negative results at this wastewater testing location since the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre cluster.
"There is a very real possibility this wastewater result is a sign of one or more undetected positive COVID-19 cases in the Ipswich community and we are treating this seriously."
Ipswich residents are being urged to get tested immediately if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild.
"The discovery of these fragments is a reminder that we should not be complacent and need to keep in place good hygiene practices, maintain social distancing and get tested when sick," Dr Young said.
"If there is a case in the community, it is critical we detect it through our testing mechanisms as quickly as possible to contain any potential spread and protect the great progress Queensland has made in recent months.
"But I also want to reassure the community, local drinking water is thoroughly treated through processes that are designed to remove or kill microorganisms before they reach your taps - so there is no risk when drinking water, showering, watering the garden, swimming or other activities."
The fever clinic at Ipswich Hospital has extended its hours to 8.30am to 4pm seven days a week.
To find your nearest testing clinic, visit here.
Read more stories by Lachlan McIvor here.