GHD, one of the world’s leading engineering firms, is launching a new service to allow public health entities, utilities and facility operators, including manufacturing, education, military and others to test and monitor their wastewater to detect the presence of SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19. Launched with the support of laboratory group Eurofins, the technology is capable of detecting few infected populations, including asymptomatic persons, before potential local outbreaks occur. 

The wastewater testing program is a non-invasive and cost-effective service that can monitor the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic. This service can be deployed across municipalities, schools, manufacturing facilities and a wide range of buildings with minimal disruption to day-to-day operations.

“The launch of this service translates to one more weapon in the fight against the pandemic,” said Peter Capponi, North American Industrial and Manufacturing Sector Leader at GHD. “The testing technology has the potential to offer scientific evidence to a wide range of organizations to support their decision-making. It is a critical addition to existing monitoring programs and could be a game-changer for those on the front lines of keeping people safe during these uncertain times.”

Studies have shown that wastewater can be used as a lead indicator of SARS-CoV-2 in localized populations, with regular and ongoing monitoring to provide early indication of an outbreak. Wastewater testing can detect traces of the coronavirus up to three days in advance of symptoms appearing in the monitored area.

A growing number of countries have turned to wastewater testing to track community outbreaks of COVID-19, including Italy, Australia, the Netherlands, and the U.S. In fact, a national study of wastewater by Italy’s National Institute of Health found that the coronavirus was already present in Milan and Turin in northern Italy in December, more than two months before the first case was detected.

The wastewater testing technology developed by Eurofins works by targeting two genome sequences to detect and confirm the presence of SARS-CoV-2 in accordance with guidelines by the World Health Organization (WHO). Results are provided within 48 hours of wastewater sample testing.

GHD has also added epidemiology and virology resources to their full service response to the pandemic.  GHD has developed key strategic relationships with various public health and leading academic institutions in the fight against COVID-19.