• Fresh sampling and testing from State-run hotel quarantine and five metropolitan wastewater treatment plants to commence this week
  • Wastewater testing of historical metropolitan catchment samples underway
  • Testing undertaken in catchments where known previously positive cases from hotel quarantine resided at the time of collection

Western Australia's wastewater testing program for COVID-19 has commenced, following extensive scientific preparation and analysis.

The testing is a collaboration between the Department of Health, PathWest and Water Corporation.

The best available techniques and equipment have been used so that we can provide the most technically advanced testing methods, ensuring that the science and objectives help inform WA's response to COVID-19.

The initial tests were performed on previously collected (historical) samples from a wastewater catchment area where positive cases of COVID-19 were residing at the time.

While there are still unknowns in relation to the duration of faecal shedding of COVID-19, the initial samples tested have shown some positive results indicating that the COVID-19 virus can be detected in wastewater sampled from a catchment area with positive cases.

It is important to note that these results from historical samples can detect fragments of the COVID-19 virus. The virus is not live in the water and a positive result does not indicate any current community COVID-19 cases and there should be no cause for concern.

The focus will now turn to testing of fresh samples collected from this week, to assist with ongoing surveillance for the virus in our communities.

Sampling directly from State-run hotel quarantine sites where current positive cases of COVID-19 are housed will commence this week to further inform how best wastewater surveillance for COVID-19 can be used.

Sampling and testing from five metropolitan wastewater treatment plants will also commence this week.

Wastewater testing will be used as part of the McGowan Government's detection program to keep WA safe from COVID-19.

Comments attributed to Health Minister Roger Cook:

"WA has taken a scientific approach to wastewater testing. We have not jeopardised our approach by rushing the test into service without first performing a comprehensive assessment.

"This luxury has been afforded due to our diligent approach to border control and our diligent focus on keeping the Western Australian community safe.

"The finding of positive results from historical samples has shown that our methodology and testing is valid.

"Fresh wastewater testing can now be included, as appropriate, in Western Australia's ongoing surveillance program in the fight against COVID-19."

Minister's office - 6552 6500