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February 18, 2020

How the water industry is helping to tackle the Coronavirus health crisis

Water industry staff across the nation are playing an important role during the Coronavirus (COVID-19) health crisis.

Designated as key workers, the public have been urged to give a wave of thanks to those throughout the water industry working to maintain clean water supplies and sewerage services.

Given the importance of water for public health, the work of the industry has never been more crucial.

Minimising the spread

Viruses are actively found in waste water, including genetic material of COVID-19, however following sewage treatment, the poor survival of similar viruses including SARS-COV-1 indicates inactivity of COVID-19 in water at more than 20°. Other viruses such as the Rota Virus are also found to be more persistent in water.

For water supplies in households, water treatment acts as a secondary barrier ensuring safely managed, fresh and clean tap water free of COVID-19 and other infectious viruses.

An early-warning sign

Researchers worldwide have begun analysing waste water to help estimate the number of COVID-19 infections within a community. While social distancing is key for supressing the outbreak, low volumes of testing means waste water surveillance could be used an early-warning indicator for new infections once distancing restrictions have been begun to be lifted.

A range of studies have shown that SARS-COV-2 can appear in stools within just three days of infection – much earlier than the time it takes to develop severe symptoms and get an official diagnosis. Public health researchers highlight that tracking viral particles in waste water could help to give officials a head start on the decision to re-introduce social distancing and lockdown measures.

Extra public precautions

Household water treatment can be an effective extra measure in removing viruses from water. Quick and easy to do, household water treatment can be done through chlorination tablets and ultrafilters.

The World Health Organisation (WHO) website shares further guidance: www.who.int/water_sanitation_health/water-quality/household/en/

COVID-19 thrives on surfaces including toilets, door handles, etc. Regularly disinfecting these surfaces and washing hands with hot, soapy water is important to prevent spread and potential infection

Bill support

The global health crisis has had a direct impact on many financially, with job losses and reduced income. All water companies in the UK have encouraged those suffering immediate or short-term issues in paying their bills to contact them to take advantage of the assistance available.

Watertrain is the predominant provider of high-quality technical training and qualification programmes to the UK water-utility sector. For more information on their training, visit www.watertrain.co.uk or contact info@watertrain.co.uk.