Can Covid-19 be transmitted through water? I Coronavirus & Wastewater

Can Covid-19 be transmitted through water? I Coronavirus & Wastewater

The video animation and following text is a summary of studies regarding the coronavirus (Covid-19):

As of today March 20th 2020 it is known that the Coronavirus is mostly spread from person-to-person during close contact — less than 2 m (6 ft). When an infected person coughs or sneezes respiratory droplets can be transmitted from one person to another, similar to how influenza and other respiratory pathogens spread.

It is very likely that the coronavirus can also be transmitted by touching contaminated surfaces or objects, however it is unclear how long the virus can survive on different surfaces and at what rate a person can get Covid-19 from contaminated surfaces.

It was recently published for example in the New England Journal of Medicine that COVID-19 may be transmitted through the fecal-oral route. This means that the coronavirus was detected in patients stool at a rate which could lead to transmission of the virus by direct contact.

Of course, the direct contact is very unlikely but through toilet flushing the coronavirus will dilute with wastewater and go over into sewer systems. Its still unclear how long the coronavirus can survive in wastewater but previous studies investigating persistence of coronavirus surrogates and SARS in wastewater highlight that in the absence of disinfection, the virus can survive in wastewater from hours to days.

Based on former studies on SARS and Ebola, scientists presume that the Coronavirus can be eliminated in wastewater by chlorine dosing which implies that standard municipal wastewater system disinfection and chlorination practices may be sufficient to control and eliminate the virus in wastewater.

On Feb 5, 2020 the US Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) published a guideline for disinfection conditions in WRRFs regarding the Coronavirus to protect personnel at wastewater treatment facilities and the public health.

All in all, the transmission of Covid-19 through sufficiently treated wastewater is nearly impossible. However, in countries where lower wastewater treatment standards apply an infection with Covid-19, especially by direct contact with wastewater, might be possible. (Short break)

 Virus infections through sewage were found for example in 2003 when an apartment block in Hong Kong was infected with SARS. Also,  A recent report indicated possible COVID-19 transmission through sewage pipes in a building in Hong Kong, but this remains to be confirmed.