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Sewage: Coronavirus

Question for Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs

UIN HL8823, tabled on 6 October 2020

To ask Her Majesty's Government what discussions they have had with (1) the Environment Agency, and (2) water companies in England, about testing waste water for COVID-19; and what plans they have to use the results of such tests to detect early warning signs of community COVID-19 outbreaks.

Answered on

20 October 2020

Defra, the Environment Agency (EA) and the Joint Biosecurity Centre (JBC) have been working together since April 2020 to establish a national monitoring programme to detect fragments of genetic material from the SARS-CoV-2 virus in waste water. The programme was announced by Defra in a press release on 12 June. Data from the programme is being used as an early warning system to detect the presence of the virus in the population. The programme could not have been established without close collaboration with the water companies. Defra, EA and JBC continue to work with water companies to further develop and refine the work programme.