Covid-19 sewage testing plan is ‘pile of nonsense’, says Longford HSE chairperson

Concern grows as Louth Covid-19 incidence rate rises

Coronavirus Covid-19

The Longford chairperson of a HSE committee has branded a move by health chiefs to start testing people’s sewage from early next month in a bid to track how Covid-19 as a “pile of nonsense” and a “complete waste of taxpayers money.”

Cllr Paraic Brady, who is the chairperson of the HSE’s Dublin Mid Leinster Forum, slammed the announcement by health bosses to roll out the National Covid-19 Wastewater Surveillance Programme.

The programme, which is set to start in early May, will measure the level of SARS-CoV-2 in 68 wastewater catchment areas across the country and will operate as an early warning system for future possible waves of Covid.

Longford and Edgeworthstown have been selected as the two locations where sampling will take place over the coming weeks, something Cllr Brady was sharply critical of.

“This is a pile of nonsense if they are talking about testing people’s sewage to detect Covid-19,” he stormed.

“It’s a complete waste of taxpayers money.”

The programme is led by a specialist team with input from the Health Protection Surveillance Centre (HPSC), HSE, HIU, the National Virus Reference Laboratory (NVRL), UCD School of Biomolecular and Biomedical Science, and Irish Water.

Results from the programme will be reported to the HSE Public Health Departments, the Irish Epidemiological Modelling Advisory Group (IEMAG), and the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET).

The findings will inform testing strategy and will play a role in the initiation of preventive public health measures.

Dr John Cuddihy, Director of HPSC pointed out that "monitoring wastewater for evidence of SARS-CoV-2 is an internationally recognised tool in many Governments’ efforts to assess the rate of infection across the population, both as a whole and within individual communities.

However, Cllr Brady was quick to call into question those remarks, insisting the focus of the Government and state bodies should be firmly fixed on the country’s vaccine rollout.

“Whatever monies are available should be spent on the rollout and getting jabs into as many arms as possible and as safely as possible,” he contended.

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