Corona numbers rise – now ministry responds

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The coronavirus continues to spread. Now wastewater monitoring in Austria is being expanded even further.

In addition to the country’s 24 largest wastewater treatment plants, another 24 treatment plants will be included in the national wastewater monitoring system. This will enable the National Reference Center to analyze its results on virus loads and variant incidence in even greater detail. These findings play an increasingly important role in the assessment of corona situation. Austria is thus further expanding its pioneering international role.

Wastewater monitoring is playing an increasingly important role in the analysis of the current situation of the Corona crisis in Austria. Through this approach, the viral load can be collected, and the predominant viral variants can be analyzed in detail. In addition, these signals in wastewater can be managed independently of the testing behavior of the population.

Health Minister Johannes Rauch comments: “The National Wastewater Monitoring provides us with reliable information on the temporal development of the virus load and the relative proportion of virus variants in Austria. This information represents an important pillar for assessing the overall epidemiological situation in Austria.”

The Ministry of Health, therefore, already established a National Reference Center for SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring at the beginning of the year. Since then, the 24 largest wastewater treatment plants in Austria have been sampled twice a week, which means that the virus excretion of around 52 percent of the Austrian population can be mapped. Since the start of the project, the scope of monitoring has met all the criteria for fulfilling EU requirements and thus providing a representative picture of the situation in Austria. Austria has already been among the EU leaders in this project.

In the coming weeks and months, the project is to be extended by an additional 24 wastewater treatment plants. The wastewater monitoring system will cover 59 percent of the Austrian population. Above all, however, this expansion will enable a finer subdivision and breakdown of the regions within Austria. This will allow regional differences to be identified even more precisely.

Minister Rauch commented: “We have already been able to cover more than half of the Austrian population through our wastewater monitoring. In the future, we will double the number of participating wastewater treatment plants to obtain even more accurate regional results. We will then cover around 60 percent of the Austrian population.”

The results will be available to authorities and crisis teams at the federal and state levels. The national SARS-CoV-2 wastewater monitoring was launched by the BMSGPK in early 2022 and is scheduled to run for four years.

  • source: heute.at/picture:pixabay.com
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