Through their Wastewater Surveillance Programme, the South African Medical Research Council (SAMRC) has detected the Covid-19 Delta variant in wastewater from the City of Cape Town including certain regions in the Western Cape.
According to News24, the SAMRC noted a correlation between viral load in wastewater and subsequent Covid-19 cases.
“For the past two months, scientists have been screening for the presence of mutations associated with the Alpha and Beta variants in wastewater and found both the Alpha and Beta variants, with the Beta variant being predominant,” said Dr Rabia Johnson, deputy director of the SAMRC’s Biomedical Research & Innovation Platform (BRIP).
The reagents to test for the Delta variant were also acquired this week and detected this as the dominant variant in the Breede Valley towns of Worcester, Rawsonville, Touws River and De Doorns, in the Theewaterskloof municipal towns of Bot River and Villiersdorp, as well as in 19 wastewater treatment plants in the Cape Town Metropole, as per News24.
“The Delta variant is highly contagious and in light of the findings from the SAMRC Wastewater Surveillance Programme, and their implications, we implore all in South Africa to adopt the highest level of precaution possible to disrupt the transmission of Covid-19,” said Dr Mongezi Mdhluli, Chief Research Operations Officer at the SAMRC.
Community Services & Health MMC in the City of Cape Town, Councillor Zahid Badroodien said: “It is important to note that the viral remnants found in wastewater are non-infectious. SARS-Cov-2 viral remnants have been found in all wastewater treatment works since we have started monitoring. Recently the MRC have detected the Delta variant in all treatment plants apart from Zandvliet.”
Meanwhile, the Western Cape government’s Environmental Affairs and Development Planning Department stressed that the detected traces of the variant found were fragments of the virus, which was not infectious in wastewater as it was no longer a living virus.
“The surveillance of wastewater acts as an effective additional early warning system to pick up any increases in virus load in a specific area. This assists authorities to put management actions in place to address any increase in a number of positive cases within such an area,” the department said in a statement.