Fears mount over COVID sewage tests
POSITIVE sewage tests for COVID-19 have been narrowed down to specific treatment plants, but locals in some areas aren't being directly warned in a loophole that could potentially allow the virus to slip through.
Health Minister Yvette D'Ath revealed last weekend that sewage in the Gold Coast, Townsville, Cleveland and North Cairns had tested positive for coronavirus.
She and Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young urged residents of those areas to get a COVID test to ensure they were not contagious.
But the Gold Coast has four sewage treatment plants, stretching from Pimpama in the north to Elanora in the south, a distance of almost 50km.
Townsville also has three sewage treatment plants - at Mt St John, Cleveland Bay and Condon.
Queensland Health data reveals that waste from the Elanora and Condon plants tested positive to COVID-19 on December 14, along with waste from plants at Cairns North and Cleveland on Brisbane's bayside.
Waste from tens of thousands of people living on the southern Gold Coast is processed at the Elanora plant but the detail was left out when Ms D'Ath and Dr Young addressed a media conference last Saturday about the escalating Sydney northern beaches COVID crisis.
"North Cairns, Townsville, Cleveland and the Gold Coast … we would like you to come out and get tested," Ms D'Ath said.
"Just so we can be assured that there aren't active cases in our community."
Samples from the Coombabah sewage treatment plant, servicing the northern Gold Coast, recorded consecutive positive tests for COVID on November 30 and December 7, Queensland Health data reveals.
Sewage from plants at Cairns North, Cairns South, Bundaberg, Wacol and Carole Park has also tested positive over the last month.
Gold Coast-based Shadow health minister Ros Bates said the health advice on sewage tests needed to be more specific.
"Wastewater testing is important as another way of detecting possible community transmission," she said.
"The more specific information is, the more informed local residents can be about protecting themselves and their community.
"Southern Gold Coast residents should be told about the positive samples at Elanora so they can take extra precautions."
Queensland Health says detections of COVID-19 in sewage may be related to an infectious person or a recovered case who is still shedding the virus.
Originally published as Fears mount over Covid sewage tests