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COVID-19 Webinar: Significance and impact of the Pandemic for the Water Sector


As a result of the current coronavirus pandemic and the necessity to better understand, monitor and respond to the situation, Prof. Rosina Girones, Research Group Leader at the University of Barcelona, and Prof. Gertjan Medema, Principle Microbiologist at KWR, share in-depth insights on the latest research and outlook for the whole water sector.

Duration: 1 hour

Webinar Link Here

Prof. Rosina Girones - Conclusions

1) Direct droplet transmission is an important route of transmission, but fecal excretion, environmental contamination, and fomites might contribute to viral transmission.

2) Potential fecal-oral transmission might pose an increased risk in contained living premises such as hostels, dormitories, trains, buses and cruise ships.

3) SARS-CoV-2 has been detected in sewage and has been described to survive for 14 days in sewage at 4°C, 2 days at 20°C, however, no fecal-oral transmission is described at the present for COVID-19. Aerosol contamination from fecal wastes of COVID-19 must be controlled, specially at low temperatures in periods of high incidence of COVID-19.

4) SARS-CoV-2 is sensitive to temperatures and disinfectants.

5) Until more data is available, it is expected that the new coronavirus would be less abundant as an infectious virus in sewage than known enteric viruses and less stable in currently applied water treatments in WWTP and DWTP. Available international guidelines for water reuse considering viral pathogens should be efficient for protecting against SARS-CoV-2.

Prof. Gertjan Medema - Conclusions

Are there health risks to workers? (i.e. of Wastewater Treatment Plant or Drinking Water Treatment Plant workers)

  • No epidemiological signal SARS1, SARS2
  • No case reports SARS1, SARS2
  • What we detected ≠ infectious virus
  • Are SARS-CoV-2 shed in stools infectious?
    • limited evidence indicates: not very
  • Survival in wastewater?
    • The virus is not robust in wastewater
    • Limited evidence SARS1: 2 days 20°C, 2 weeks 4°C
    • Limited evidence: not in effluent

Advice: Standard personal protection is safe