Udayavni Special

With rise in COVID cases, sewage surveillance system launched in Bengaluru for early detection of infection


PTI, May 27, 2021, 3:07 PM IST

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Bengaluru: Alarmed by the rising COVID-19 cases in Bengaluru, the Karnataka government has launched the city-wide sewage surveillance system to track the virus even among asymptomatic individuals at its early stage.

To begin with, it will start from 45 wards in which samples will be collected by next week in order to identify the infection clusters for better resource management, an official statement read.

“The system will cover over 75 per cent of Bengaluru’s nine million population by generating over 90 data points per week signalling the emerging COVID-19 clusters or signalling a COVID-19 clusters exit from an area. We are happy to launch this model in Bengaluru, first in India,” the statement quoted the Additional Chief Secretary of Urban Development Rakesh Singh as saying.

According to the statement, the drive is an initiative of COVIDActionCollab (CAC) supported by the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and the Skoll Foundation-supported), an India-wide collaborative of over 300 organisations and networks, who are working together to provide COVID-19 relief and recovery services to the country’s most vulnerable communities.

The CAC is working with PCMH Restore Health and Wellness and Swasti, the Health Catalyst initiative to assist the Government of Karnataka in the roll out of this innovative approach to COVID-19 control, the statement said.

Stating that scientists around the world have discovered that waste water testing can serve as a cost effective early warning system, the statement said the mechanism often predicts an increase in COVID-19 before the number of official cases rises.

“The Precision Public Health Surveillance system in Bengaluru, the first of its kind in Asia, will test sewage from different areas of the city to identify clusters of infections,” the statement read.

Early identification of these clusters can help guide the COVID-19 response and give policymakers the information they need to better allocate limited pandemic resources.

The government stumbled upon the idea after it found that most of COVID-19 clusters were located near the Sewage Treatment Plants where the treated water is reused for non- potable purposes, official sources said.

The state reported 26,811 infections and 530 fatalities due to COVID-19 on Wednesday.

There are about 4.1 lakh active cases in the state.

To contain the spread of the pandemic, the government has imposed stringent restrictions from April 27 till June 7.

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