Media Release
26 November 2020

Coronavirus fragments have been detected in a wastewater sample collected from the Oyster Cove wastewater treatment plant in Corio.

Residents and visitors to Geelong’s northern suburbs and Lara from Saturday 21 to Tuesday 23 November are urged to get tested if they have any symptoms, no matter how mild. 

The result is unexpected given that there are no residents in the area known to have recently had a coronavirus (COVID-19) illness or diagnosis. 

Samples of untreated wastewater are analysed for fragments of SARS-CoV-2 – the virus that causes coronavirus (COVID-19) – at more than 50 wastewater treatment plants across Victoria. 

Acting Chief Health Officer Allen Cheng said the viral fragments may be because of residents or people visiting these areas shedding the virus. People who have had coronavirus may shed the virus or virus fragments for several weeks in their stool, well beyond their infectious period.

“We have had few of these positive wastewater results recently and, while we haven’t discovered any undiagnosed case of coronavirus (COVID-19), it is possible that there may be an infectious person in this catchment,” Professor Cheng said.

“We encourage people in this area who are symptomatic to be tested and will update the community once more testing results become available.”

“It is also a timely reminder for local businesses to re-check their COVID Safe plans to keep themselves, their colleagues and customers safe.”

Viral fragments were last week detected in wastewater in Altona, Benalla and Portland despite no known local people with recent coronavirus (COVID-19) infection.

Increased testing of residents and visitors in these locations has not revealed anyone with the virus. 

For a full list of testing locations, visit the Where to get tested page. 

More information on wastewater testing is on the Department of Health and Human Services website.

A list of wastewater sampling locations and latest results can be found on the Wastewater monitoring webpage

Media enquiries

Department of Health & Human Services Media Unit (03) 9096 8860 or press@dhhs.vic.gov.au