The provision of safe water, sanitation and hygiene services is essential for protecting human health during all infectious disease outbreaks, including the current coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19), caused by the novel coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2). Recent research has shown the presence of SARS-CoV-2 nucleic acids in the faeces of infected people and wastewater from infected communities. Therefore, there has been increased interest on (1) the presence and persistence of the virus in water and sanitation environments, (2) the role of the aquatic environment in the transport and possible transmission of SARS-CoV-2 through exposure to contaminated surface water sources, poorly treated municipal wastewater, poorly managed domestic greywater, and faeces of infected people, and (3) the use of a wastewater-based epidemiology approach for supporting the surveillance of COVID-19 spread in South African communities. In order to stimulate research in these areas, the WRC has set-up a special programme to support related research. One of the initiatives under this programme is a national wastewater-based epidemiological study for the surveillance of COVID-19 spread in communities.
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