A sample of Clarence Valley sewage water is collected to be tested for COVID-19. Photo: Clarence Valley Council
A sample of Clarence Valley sewage water is collected to be tested for COVID-19. Photo: Clarence Valley Council

Clarence sewage gets its first COVID tests back

THE Clarence Valley has passed its first set of COVID sewage tests with NSW Health giving our three outfalls a clean bill of health for the past two weeks.

In its weekly surveillance report released on November 25, NSW Health showed all of the outfalls tested on November 21 were clear of COVID, except for Bondi, Liverpool, North Head, Moss Vale and Batemans Bay.

Clarence Valley Council made requests of NSW Health to test the sewage outfalls in September, and following questions from The Daily Examiner, NSW Health said they would consider bringing the testing to the area.

At the time, COVID sewage testing was listed by Queensland Deputy Premier Stephen Miles as one of the main factors in which areas Queensland allowed into its “border bubble”, of which the Clarence was the only LGA in Northern NSW excluded.

>>> RELATED: Covid tests taken from Clarence Valley sewage outfalls

Manager of water Greg Mashiah said council will test again this week and next week, and it was up to NSW Health weather the testing would continue after that.

There has only been one positive sewage COVID test in the Northern Rivers, with traces found in the Byron outfall at its first test on August 1, but tested clear at its next test on August 8.

“Clarence Valley Council is the latest of four councils within the Northern NSW Local Health District (NNSWLHD) to participate in the sewage surveillance program,” Northern NSW Local Health District CEO Wayne Jones said.

“Detection of virus fragments in sewage can be due to shedding of the virus by someone who may have previously had the illness, with the virus ‘shedding’ through their system for up to six to eight weeks later,” he said.

“A positive sewage result can also provide early warning of potential virus introduction into areas where transmission is not expected or not thought to occur.”

Mr Jones said as well as being present in stools, viral fragments can enter the sewer when washed off hands and bodies through sinks and showers.

Usual sewage treatment processes inactivate, or kill, the COVID-19 virus.