New sewage testing shows evidence of COVID-19 in Brisbane after UK strain found

COVID-19 viral fragments in sewage have been discovered in Brisbane as authorities attempt to prevent further cases of a new strain of the disease.

The fragments have been discovered at the Gibson Island water treatment plant in Brisbane’s south this week.

They have also been found in Townsville, Hervey Bay and Maryborough sewage.

On Thursday, an Algester woman who works in hotel quarantine tested positive for a strain of the virus from the UK which is about 70 per cent more contagious than previous strains.

The case has sparked a three-day lock down of Greater Brisbane, including Ipswich, Moreton Bay, Redlands and Logan, from 6pm on Friday.

Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young said the sewage results should spark caution.

A health care worker outside The Hotel Grand Chancellor in Brisbane. A cleaner who works there has tested positive to COVID-19. Credit: Darren England/AAP

“This does not mean we have new cases of COVID-19 in these communities,” she said on Friday.

“But we are treating these detections with absolute caution,” 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.

Jeannette Young
Queensland Chief Health Officer Jeannette Young is concerned by virus fragments detected in sewage. File image. Credit: AAP

“Given the recent case of community transmission in Brisbane and the regular detection of cases in other states, I am urging anyone who feels unwell in these communities to get tested and isolate.

“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.”

She said symptoms include fever, cough, sore throat, runny nose, fatigue, diarrhoea, nausea or vomiting, and loss of taste or smell.

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