Sewage, air surveillance needed in Parliament to detect COVID-19

New Delhi, Mar 30 (PTI):
A presentation suggesting the setting up of sewage and air surveillance systems in Parliament to detect the prevalence of COVID-19 was made before Vice President M Venkaiah Naidu on Tuesday.
Elaborating on the relevance of sewage surveillance in his presentation, Director General of Council of Scientific and Industrial Research (CSIR) Shekhar C Mande said, “COVID-19 patients shed SAR-CoV-2 in stools. Apart from symptomatic individuals, asymptomatic people also shed the virus in their stools.”
Sewage surveillance provides a qualitative as well as a quantitative estimate of the number of people infected in a population and could be used to understand the progression of COVID-19 even when mass scale tests for individuals are not possible, an official statement said quoting the CSIR chief. It is a measure to comprehensively monitor the prevalence of the disease in communities in real time, Mande said. Presenting data of sewage surveillance carried out to find the trend of infection in Hyderabad, Allahabad, Delhi, Kolkata, Mumbai, Nagpur, Puducherry and Chennai, he said it provides an unbiased estimate of numbers since the sampling is not done at the individual level.
On the other hand, the numbers obtained by regular testing depend on the number of individuals tested. Mande said that sewage surveillance of COVID-19 would not only help understand the present epidemiology of the disease but would be an indispensable tool for early and easier detection of future coronavirus outbreaks.
He also suggested setting up an air sampling system to monitor viral particles and potential infectivity threat.
The vice president, who is also chairperson of Rajya Sabha, said he would discuss the issue with Lok Sabha Speaker Om Birla and the government.

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