Scientists testing Aberdeen’s water supply have successfully pinpointed fragments of coronavirus’s ribonucleic acid (RNA) waste water samples.
Sepa began work looking at waste water in May alongside Scottish Water, Crew, Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute and Heriot Watt University.
Its aim was to detect fragments of the virus’ RNA (ribonucleic acid), a genetic footprint which can be measured in waste water even after the virus has begun to breakdown.
The World Health Organisation has said there is no evidence coronavirus has been transmitted via sewage systems.
Analysis was carried out on waste water from 12 health board areas.
In Aberdeen, Sepa’s analysis demonstrated how the prevalence of the virus in waste water mirrors cases in the population.
At the beginning of August, Sepa analysed a sample from the Aberdeen area which was positive for Covid-19 RNA. This was said to be consistent with an increase in positive cases in the area.
Terry A’Hearn, Sepa CEO, said: “As Scotland’s environmental watchdog and as a public agency, we remain proud to be playing our part in the national effort to combat coronavirus.
“Our scientific capabilities and expertise in designing and implementing monitoring networks made us ideally suited to delivering this trial and the results we are seeing demonstrate its scientific validity.
“Central to the delivery of this project has been our partnership working Scottish Water and the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, and we will continue to work closely together to refine our techniques and understanding.
“We’ve received support from across the public sector, agencies and institutions – including a donation of specialist kit from Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture – demonstrating how Scotland is coming together to find ways of tackling this virus.”