The McGowan Government’s comprehensive wastewater testing program across Western Australia has continued to return no expected detection of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
Weekly testing has been ongoing since November at six of Perth’s wastewater treatment plants – Subiaco, Woodman Point, Alkimos, Beenyup, Gordon Road and Point Peron.
The Subiaco plant is the only one to have detected inactive viral fragments of SARS-CoV-2. These detections were expected because the Subiaco plant processes wastewater from the State-run quarantine hotels.
It is important to note that the virus is not live in the wastewater, so there is no cause for concern.
There has been no detection of SARS-CoV-2 at the other five metropolitan wastewater treatment plants.
Similarly, there has been no detection of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater in regional WA. Regional testing is being rolled out across 10 towns – Albany, Broome, Bunbury, Busselton, Esperance, Geraldton, Kalgoorlie, Karratha, Northam and Port Hedland.
The wastewater testing program is one part of the ongoing surveillance for COVID-19 in Western Australia.
The centrepiece of that surveillance has been hundreds of thousands of individual PCR tests and the strict protocols around international arrivals in our State, from the time they land at Perth Airport through to the robust 14-day hotel quarantine operation.
This operation has been highly successful in preventing COVID-19, including the highly contagious UK strain, from being transmitted into the WA community.
The successful international quarantine hotel operation has worked alongside WA’s hard and controlled border arrangements for travel within Australia.
These robust measures have enabled Western Australia to remain free of any community transmission of COVID-19 for more than nine months.
The wastewater testing program is a collaboration between the Department of Health, PathWest, the Water Corporation and WA Country Health Service.
As stated by Health Minister Roger Cook:
“We have been fortunate to have no community transmission of COVID-19 in Western Australia for more than nine months.
“This has not happened by chance – and can never be taken for granted.
“It is why we have such a multi-layered and robust strategy to do everything we can to keep Western Australians safe from this devastating and highly contagious virus.
“The wastewater testing program across Western Australia is one piece of that puzzle.
“The results are what we expected to see. The only positive detections have been related to the cases of COVID-19 in hotel quarantine.
“The wastewater testing program is providing an additional layer of surveillance for COVID-19 in Western Australia.
“But it does not replace the crucial need for testing people with symptoms of COVID-19 which is the cornerstone of any COVID-19 strategy.
“People who have any of the symptoms of COVID-19 should get tested so that we are aware of any cases in the community.”