10 December 2020

Viral RNA detected in wastewater weeks before cases reported

Communicable Disease COVID-19 Live blog

Welcome to The Medical Republic’s COVID Catch-Up.

It’s the day’s COVID-19 news in one convenient post. Email bianca@biancanogrady.com with any tips, comments or feedback.


10 December


  • SARS-CoV-2 viral RNA was detected in Brisbane wastewater up to three weeks before the first case was reported, according to CSIRO Research.
    A study published in Science of the Total Environment described analysis of 63 wastewater samples taken from three treatment plants between 24 February and 1 May this year.
    The first positive samples were detected in late February, but were from a wastewater treatment plant in an area that didn’t report any positive cases until mid-March.
    “Wastewater surveillance affords the possibility of detecting cases that are still pre-symptomatic or asymptomatic the progression of SARS-CoV-2 infection,” the authors wrote.
  • The Federal government’s emergency biosecurity protocols, put in place in March this year to help manage the COVID-19 pandemic, are to be extended for another three months to March 2021.
    Given the level of health risk still posed by the global COVID-19 situation, the Australian Health Protection Principal Committee recommended the extension, which means a continuation of restrictions on cruise ships, outbound international travel, and the operation of retail shops at international airports.
  • Bad news for blokes: men have a nearly three-fold higher odds of ending up in intensive care with COVID-19 compared to women and 1.4-times higher risk of death.
    A meta-analysis of 90 reports involving more than 3.1 million people, published in Nature, found that while men and women were equally represented in the overall number of infections, men had a 2.8-times higher odds of admission to intensive care and 1.4-times higher odds of dying from COVID-19.
    The authors noted that previous coronavirus epidemics have showed a similar sex bias.
    “These data suggest that, whilst socio-economic factors may be influencing some aspects of the pandemic, fundamental differences in the immune response between males and females are likely to be a driving factor behind the significant sex-bias observed in the COVID-19 pandemic,” they wrote.
  • Tasmania has recorded its first new infections since mid-August, but all three are returned travellers in hotel quarantine.
    Here are the latest confirmed COVID-19 infection numbers from around Australia to 9pm Wednesday:
    National – 27,993 with 908 deaths
    ACT – 117 (0)
    NSW – 4622 (2)
    NT – 61 (0)
    QLD – 1221 (0)
    SA – 562 (0)
    TAS – 233 (3)
    VIC – 20,345 (0)
    WA – 832 (1)
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