Queensland’s Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young

January 25, 2021

Fragments of COVID-19 have been detected in sewage at seven more sites in Queensland.

Chief Health Officer Dr Jeannette Young said viral fragments of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes COVID-19 – have been detected at wastewater treatment plants at Caboolture South, Oxley Creek, Bundamba, Gibson Island, Luggage Point, Maryborough and Pulgul (Hervey Bay).

“While this does not mean we have new cases of COVID-19 in these communities, we are treating these detections seriously,” Dr Young said.

“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.

“I continue to urge anyone who feels unwell in these communities to get tested and isolate.

“Symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, and loss of taste or smell.

“If there is a case we are not yet aware of, it is critical we detect it through our testing mechanisms as quickly as possible to contain any potential spread.”

During the past four weeks, viral fragments have been detected at 26 wastewater treatment plants in Queensland: Bundaberg, Bundamba, Cairns North, Cannonvale, Capalaba, Carole Park, Cleveland Bay, Coombabah, Elanora, Gibson Island, Goodna, Loganholme, Luggage Point, Mackay South, Maryborough, Merrimac, Mount St John, Nambour, Pimpama, Pulgul, Redcliffe, Rockhampton South, Stanthorpe, Wacol, Warwick and Wynnum.

Not all wastewater treatment plants are part of the surveillance program.

According to Queensland Health, locations for sample collection have been chosen to represent larger population centres, popular holiday towns and some communities close to the border with NSW.

UPDATE January 26:  Fragments of COVID-19 have been detected in sewage at more sites: Condon (Townsville), Cairns South, Cairns Marlin Coast, Maroochydore  and Yeppoon.

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Queensland Health is asking anyone who has arrived in Queensland from New Zealand since January 14 – including on green corridor flights – to get tested and quarantine until they receive a negative COVID-19 test result.

This follows a confirmed COVID-19 case in a returned traveller to New Zealand who tested positive to the more contagious South African variant after completing 14 days of hotel quarantine.

The woman has since visited a number of locations in New Zealand.

Queensland Health is urging anyone who has returned from New Zealand to get tested immediately, even if they do not have symptoms. and to quarantine until they receive a negative result.

Contact tracing is currently under way by New Zealand Health authorities.

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