COVID find ‘interesting, remarkable’, but not cause for alarm
THE discovery of viral fragments of COVID-19 at Hervey Bay's Pulgul sewage treatment plant was "interesting and remarkable," Fraser Coast Mayor George Seymour said.
But it was not cause for alarm.
Cr Seymour urged people to go to the region's fever clinics and get tested if they showed symptoms of the disease.
"I think it shows that we need to continue to be alert," he said.
"Somebody is shedding the virus in the Hervey Bay water catchment area.
"It could be somebody with a case, or somebody who's had a case in the last few weeks.
"We know that people can continue to shed the virus for several weeks after they've been infectious.
"People shouldn't panic but people should be aware, if they have any symptoms they should get tested right away."
Cr Seymour said it was impossible to tell from the viral fragments detected whether it was one person or 10 who was shedding the disease.
The sample was taken as part of a Queensland Health study testing sewage for traces of COVID-19 in a range of locations throughout regional Queensland.
"It's in our community, whether it was someone who was infectious in our community or is infectious now," he said.
"It's impossible to say from what they found."
Cr Seymour said samples from the Maryborough and Hervey Bay sewage treatment plants were being tested every week.
So far, Maryborough's samples have been clear of the virus.
Community transmission was the biggest concern right now, Cr Seymour said.
"The worst-case scenario is that there's somebody out there, with COVID-19 who doesn't know, interacting with people," he said.
"That's why we have social distancing for people who are healthy, that's why we are a pressing good hygiene, because people may not know they have it."
Cr Seymour said the high rate of testing was why Queensland was doing so well.
"There's over a million tests been done in Queensland and that how they track down cases so quickly."
Mr Seymour said the viral fragments were not infectious.
"Importantly, the virus fragment was detected in sewage and has nothing to do with the quality of our drinking water," he said.
"Our water is safe to drink, to shower in and to use in cooking or watering your garden.
"It also needs to be understood that the virus is killed by usual sewage treatment processes before it is discharged to the environment."