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Canberra Times reports traces of COVID-19 in sewerage tests

30 January 2021

The Canberra Times has reported that traces of coronavirus have been detected in a routine sewage test in the ACT for the first time, prompting renewed calls for Canberrans to get tested for COVID-19 if they experience even mild symptoms.

The positive detection in a sewage sample was collected from Belconnen waste water testing location on January 27. The Belconnen waste water testing location covers waste water from all Belconnen suburbs as well as Hall village.

Such traces of coronavirus could be due to a person who had previously recovered from COVID-19 shedding the virus when they are no longer infectious. The virus can shed through a recovered person's system for between six and eight weeks after they have recovered. However, the positive detection can also indicate undetected active cases in the community.

"We know this news may be concerning for residents in the Belconnen suburbs and Hall village area, however this news does not automatically mean we have an active case here in the ACT," Ms Stephen-Smith, ACT Minister for Health, said. Ms Stephen-Smith said anyone who lived in or visited these areas and had even mild symptoms of COVID-19 needed to get tested and self isolate.

"Although there is no cause for alarm, this is an important reminder that COVID-19 has not gone away and that we need the community to remain alert," she said.

Further waste water testing will take place on Tuesday 2 Februray as part of the ACT government's weekly testing program.

The ACT has not recorded any positive cases of COVID-19 since December, when a Commonwealth official returned a positive test in hotel quarantine.

Information on COVID-19 symptoms, testing and prevention is available from ACT Health at 02 6207 7244 or

The original story in the Canberra Times was reported by Jasper Lindell.

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