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Costa Rica can now detect the coronavirus in wastewater

May 14, 2020

A Costa Rican state laboratory has managed to detect traces of the new coronavirus in wastewater, which will allow epidemiological surveillance to be extended and alert to the presence of COVID-19 in communities, the government reported on Wednesday.

The National Water Laboratory detected the presence of the SARS-CoV-2 coronavirus in wastewater from a migrant detention center in samples taken on May 7, when there were 14 infected inmates.

“It is an achievement for Costa Rica to have a program to detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater, as it will strengthen virus monitoring in different communities in the country,” said the Minister of Health, Daniel Salas, when announcing the news at a press conference.

The laboratory, attached to the state company of the Costa Rican Water and Sewer Institute (AyA), began taking samples in residual water in several of the country’s hospitals that host people with COVID-19 to validate the tests.

The studies make it possible to detect the presence of the coronavirus, and later they will be able to measure its concentration in different samples to quantify the virus load in the studied population, according to a statement from AyA.

“It is an early warning that lets us know if the coronavirus is present in the (analyzed) locality,” said Yamileth Astorga, director of AyA.

The institution clarified that there is no evidence that wastewater transmits the disease that has triggered a pandemic.

Since the appearance of the coronavirus in December in China, several international scientific studies have revealed the presence of the pathogen in the faeces of patients.

As a result of that finding, different international groups found elements of the SARS-CoV-2 genome in wastewater in cities such as Paris, Amsterdam and Brisbane.

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