Sewage water surveillance of (enteral) viruses has proven valuable in research into the circulation of viruses in the population and the detection of virus outbreaks. This is because a large part of the population can be monitored via sewage, including the population with mild symptoms. In the current SARS-CoV-2 pandemic, a significant proportion (approximately 50%) of COVID-19 patients excrete the virus (SARS-CoV-2) through their feces. To determine whether SARS-CoV-2 was present in the sewer during the emergence of COVID-19 in the Netherlands, the KWR tested sewage from 7 cities and Schiphol. This showed that the virus was detectable in the sewage water early in the Dutch outbreak (March 5). Detection of the virus in wastewater, even if the COVID-19 prevalence is low, indicates that wastewater monitoring can be a sensitive tool to monitor the circulation of the virus in the population.
The aim of this project is to determine the optimal way to detect new releases of SARS-CoV-2 as early as possible.