Water Industry Warned That Covid-19 Could Be Here For Years

A warning has been issued to the water industry by the founder and chairman of tech and innovation consultancy Isle Utilities that Covid-19 could potentially be around for two to three years until a vaccine has been found and more than three billion people vaccinated.

Speaking at British Water’s Better Together video conference at the start of May, Dr Piers Clark – who is heading up a global Covid-19 sector-wide collaboration initiative over WhatsApp – explained that resurgence of the virus around the world was likely and could be seen in waves that last between ten and 20 weeks, depending on the extent and severity of lockdown measures, WWT Online reports.

He went on to say that the water industry has an important role to play, with monitoring of sewerage systems providing a rapid early detection method for identifying community outbreaks of the virus, leading to targeted lockdowns.

“We’ve had a dedicated team working on this, pulling out the best information that’s available from all around the world.  At a macro level, the evidence is becoming increasingly strong that this virus is going to be with us for years,” Dr Clark went on to say.

The Better Together virtual calls were organised by British Water in response to the pandemic, giving members the opportunity to gain insights on how the crisis is affecting the industry, as well as finding ways to best support the sector.

Lila Thompson, chief executive of British Water, said: “The insights we receive from our Better Together speakers are highly valued by British Water members, which is why more and more are joining us each week.

“Conversations have moved to how companies are now planning ahead to ensure they can emerge from this crisis in a strong position, while preparing themselves for potential resurgences.”

Earlier this month (May), Bangor University researchers began looking into how analysing sewage could help predict a second peak of coronavirus up to two weeks before people become symptomatic.

According to the BBC, the team have been looking at samples from Welsh water treatment works to trace how many people have been infected, with people shedding the virus in faeces up to two weeks before symptoms become apparent. Norovirus has been tracked through the sewage system in the past.

Professor Davey Jones of the School of Natural Sciences explained that this is an effective way of tracing viruses, in part because it is possible to capture data on most of the population simply and cost-effectively.

In Wales, around 75 per cent of the population were connected to 21 Welsh Water-operated individual treatment plants and Mr Jones went on to say that it is possible to see if different parts of the country have different regions being infected by different viral strains by assessing the genetic code of the virus.

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