The Prime Minister is considering a new alert system to monitor waste water to track the rate of coronavirus on a local level.
Johnson was asked will the new system will eventually identify local flare-ups if coronavirus infection is detected in the water supply.
He said, “Yes indeed, the intention is the Covid alert system in time will be sufficiently sensitive and flexible as to detect local flare-ups, so that for instance, if Covid is detected in the water supply of a certain town, then steps can be taken, or in a school, in an area, then steps can be taken on the spot to deal with that flare-up.”
He added, “Measures can be taken to keep the R down locally as well as nationally.”
Later Downing Street clarified Johnson’s comments that the traces of coronavirus will be found in sewage, not drinking water.
The Prime Minister’s official spokesman said: “Yes, that specifically is a reference to sewage or waste water, as it is more politely described.
“Some studies have been carried out overseas on this and I think it is something we are looking at as a possible way of seeing if you could track the rate of infections locally.”
The spokesman said officials are investigating whether sewage samples will enable them to “track if the virus is more prevalent in some parts of the country than in others.”
They said, “Obviously it is just one of a number of ways we could do that.
“To the best of my knowledge, it is something we are looking at doing rather than something we are doing already.”
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