Local News

Sewage testing for COVID-19 begins across the Northern Territory

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The sewage of Territorians in 10 locations is now being tested for COVID-19.

The extra screening has been introduced to complement lab-based testing, helping detect cases early.

Wastewater testing will be conducted for the Darwin and Palmerston areas including the Howard Springs Quarantine Facility.

Testing will also be performed at sites that attract high volumes of tourists and events such as Mindil Beach and the CBD.

Acting Chief Health Officer, Doctor Charles Pain says wastewater testing has been successful in other parts of the country.

“Wastewater testing adds another layer of protection and strengthens our position in the fight against COVID-19 and to keep Territorians safe,” Doctor Pain says.

So far testing is working as expected, with only fragments of the virus showing up in wastewater from Howard Springs.

But Doctor Pain says people should not be alarmed about positive detections in other areas.

“Even if there are no cases in the community, it is well known that people shed fragments of the virus for months after clinically recovering from COVID-19,” he says.

If fragments of the virus are detected, public health authorities will be able to better identify which areas need more clinical testing.

Less than 50,000 people are serviced by each catchment, meaning detection should be fairly accurate according to the testing requirements.

The approach will be reviewed after three months.