COVID-19 monitoring with sparse sampling of sewered and non-sewered wastewater in urban and rural communities

Dhammika Leshan Wannigama, Mohan Amarasiri, Parichart Hongsing, Cameron Hurst, Charin Modchang, Sudarat Chadsuthi, Suparinthon Anupong, Phatthranit Phattharapornjaroen, Ali Hosseini Ali, Stefan Fernandez, Angkana T. Huang, Porames Vatanaprasan, Dylan John Jay, Thammakorn Saethang, Sirirat Luk-in, Robin James Storer, Puey Ounjai, Naveen Kumar Devanga Ragupathi, Phitsanuruk Kanthawee, Daisuke SanoTakashi Furukawa, Kazunari Sei, Asada Leelahavanichkul, Talerngsak Kanjanabuch, Nattiya Hirankarn, Paul G. Higgins, Anthony Kicic, Andrew C. Singer, Tanittha Chatsuwan, Sam Trowsdale, Shuichi Abe, Alexander D. McLellan, Hitoshi Ishikawa

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Abstract

Equitable SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in low-resource communities lacking centralized sewers is critical as wastewater-based epidemiology (WBE) progresses. However, large-scale studies on SARS-CoV-2 detection in wastewater from low-and middle-income countries is limited because of economic and technical reasons. In this study, wastewater samples were collected twice a month from 186 urban and rural subdistricts in nine provinces of Thailand mostly having decentralized and non-sewered sanitation infrastructure and analyzed for SARS-CoV-2 RNA variants using allele-specific RT-qPCR. Wastewater SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentration was used to estimate the real-time incidence and time-varying effective reproduction number (Re). Results showed an increase in SARS-CoV-2 RNA concentrations in wastewater from urban and rural areas 14–20 days earlier than infected individuals were officially reported. It also showed that community/food markets were “hot spots” for infected people. This approach offers an opportunity for early detection of transmission surges, allowing preparedness and potentially mitigating significant outbreaks at both spatial and temporal scales.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107019
Pages (from-to)1-21
Number of pages21
JournaliScience
Volume26
Issue number7
DOIs
Publication statusPublished - 21 Jul 2023

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