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ACCIONA starts HigiA, a study for the early detection of COVID-19 in wastewater

07/07/2020
  • This study will enable regular checks and detect possible new outbreaks of the disease at any early stage

ACCIONA has implemented HigiA (*), a study that will provide a periodic analysis of samples of wastewater for the early detection of the SARS COV-2 virus.

The study will take place over the new few months in the Spanish localities where ACCIONA undertakes the end-to-end management of the water cycle.

With this system, the aim is monitor the evolution of infections and the transmission channels of the coronavirus, in a phase where there is now total mobility in the whole country, to be able to adopt measures in advance in the face of a possible new outbreak.

Monitoring the presence of the virus in wastewater is a feasible and economic alternative in comparison with the costs involved in carrying out screening tests for the whole population.

Various studies have indicated that the coronavirus leaves a genetic trace that stays in the body of infected persons for 20 days and is then expelled. This means that if more people are infected in a particular area, the amount of virus genome found in the wastewater in that area is correspondingly higher.

In an initial phase of the study (currently under way) the strategic sampling points will be decided, including critical buildings such as hospitals, nursing homes and particular geographic areas. Representative samples will be taken at each of these places for three weeks, followed by a quantitative analysis. The mean figures obtained will determine the level of risk at each selected sampling point.

Later, semi-quantitative RT-PCT tests will be carried out on a regular basis to monitor the circulation of the virus and determine whether the site in question is above or below the critical level. This means that a new outbreak of covid-19 can be detected at an early stage, and the necessary measures taken.

 

* In Greek mythology, Hygieia (Ὑγίειᾰ Hygíeia  or Ὑγείᾱ Hygeia, ‘health’ in Ancient Greek) was the daughter of Asclepius and Epione and the sister of  Telesphorus, Iaso and Panacea, the goddess of healing, cleanliness and health (and also of the Moon, later), while her father was related to the world of medicine. The word “hygiene” comes from the equivalent term in Roman methodology being ‘Salus’.

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