Update on COVID-19 wastewater testing in Byron Shire

Byron Shire Council welcomed confirmation from NSW Health late yesterday afternoon that testing of wastewater, as at 30 December 2020, revealed no trace of COVID-19.

It comes after no test results were available for four weeks in November-December.

Council has been providing wastewater samples upon request to NSW Health as part of its Sewage Surveillance Program since July last year.

Council was aware that one of its samples for the week 16-22 December was unable to be used because it was frozen.

This happened after the courier failed to pick up the sample and staff put it in the freezer. Unfortunately the frozen sample could not be used and Council apologises for this error.

In discussions with the Sydney Water laboratory yesterday as to why the other three test results were not available on the NSW Health website it was revealed that there were problems with the courier delivery process after the samples were collected from Council.

One sample froze during delivery to the laboratory.

The remaining two samples were not able to be used as unexpected delays with the couriers resulted in those samples being delivered to the Sydney Water laboratory above the temperature specification for analysis.

In order to rectify the logistic issues associated with collection and delivery of these samples, Council has been working with the Sydney Water Laboratory and NSW Health and is now using a different courier service to ensure samples reach the lab in a suitable state for testing.

Council understands how important it is for the community to have faith that all is being done to stem the spread of COVID-19, especially during busy holiday times.

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