Monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater: an early and highly relevant detection!

Top News12/09/2020

The European Commission advocates systematic monitoring.


Monitoring for SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater can be used for prevention or early warning purposes. A recommendation from the European Commission urges Member States to set up national surveillance, in particular in local authorities, by 1 October 2021. 

Why look for Covid-19 in wastewater?

Monitoring for the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater is a particularly interesting indicator for detecting the presence of the virus, even before the first symptoms appear. In humans, the development of the first symptoms takes 4 to 5 times longer than the release of the virus from the body (via excreta), which makes the search for the virus in wastewater a very relevant indicator: we can really speak of early detection of Covid-19.


Epidemiological monitoring of wastewater makes it possible to evaluate the circulation of the virus in a department, a town, a district, but also a company or an establishment, whatever they may be. This screening, which is not centred on the individual, has two interests:

  • it allows an overall trend to be identified as to the circulation of the virus within the population concerned by the wastewater network analysed
  • It also provides indirect feedback on the effectiveness of the sanitary measures in place


A European Commission recommendation of 17 March 2021 calls for the implementation of systematic surveillance of the presence of SARS-CoV-2 and its variants in wastewater in the European Union. This recommendation urges Member States to set up national surveillance as soon as possible, and by 1 October 2021 at the latest, with priority given to agglomerations with more than 150,000 inhabitants. This surveillance is already in place in many communities and can be extended to specific businesses or institutions.


Early detection of SARS-CoV-2 before the onset of symptoms is a key asset in a pandemic control strategy as it allows for greater reactivity in the implementation of effective measures.

Apave support

Thanks to its experience in the field of sanitation and the quantification of aqueous pollution, Apave can help you set up weekly or fortnightly monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 concentrations in the wastewater of your establishment or your community.


How are the samples taken?

Samples are taken over a 24-hour period, using a time-sensitive sampler, in a dry period if possible (or at a sampling point not influenced by meteorological phenomena).


The samples are packaged and transported to the laboratory in a refrigerated chamber (5 ± 3°C). The analyses are carried out in a laboratory using appropriate RT-PCR methods under standard quality management conditions. The usual turnaround time for SARS-CoV-2 results is 2-3 days after the on-site intervention.


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