7 January 2021
Routine wastewater testing collected on 29 and 30 December 2020 has detected viral fragments of COVID-19 in sewerage at four treatment plants across the state, including Stanthorpe and Warwick.
Queensland Chief Health Officer Dr Jeanette Young said she was calling on the Warwick and Stanthorpe, communities to get tested immediately if they have any COVID-19 symptoms, no matter how mild.
“A positive sewage result means that someone who has been infected was shedding the virus. Infected people can shed viral fragments and that shedding can happen for several weeks after the person is no longer infectious,” Dr Young said.
“While this doesn’t necessarily mean we have new cases of COVID-19 in these communities, I am treating this with absolute caution given the emerging situation across several other states.”
Following the announcement, Southern Downs Regional Council wants to reassure the community that there is no evidence that COVID-19 can be spread via recycled water or the release of treated wastewater to waterways, nor are there any known active cases in the Southern Downs area.
Council advises residents to continue to follow Queensland Health recommendations and to get tested if they have symptoms.
Southern Downs Mayor Vic Pennisi said that Council would continue to work closely with Queensland Health and follow its recommendations for the safety of the community.
“From the outset, we have been guided by Queensland Health, and their direction has played a significant part in keeping our community COVID-19 safe,” Mayor Pennisi said.
“While we continue to work with the state government to closely monitor the situation of viral fragments in our sewerage, I encourage anyone with COVID-19 symptoms to get tested immediately for the safety of our families, friends and community.”
Fever clinics will be open at the Warwick and Stanthorpe Hospitals from 8am on Wednesday 6 January 2021 until further notice.
Wastewater test results over the past four weeks have also detected COVID-19 in samples from Cairns, Condon, Bundaberg, Nambour, Redcliffe, Wynnum, Wacol, Fairfield, Cleveland, Victoria Point, Oxley Creek, Carole Park, Coombabah, Elanora and Loganholme.