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Scoping monitoring of coronavirus in wastewater in Peru

The current worldwide COVID-19 pandemic is a major concern for human health. The spread of this virus needs to be controlled to prevent further infections and deaths. Coronavirus SARS-CoV-2 is excreted by infected people with their faeces. The virus can be spread with faeces to sewage systems and downstream water with stormwater or in case the wastewater treatment is insufficient. The Embassy of the Kingdom of the Netherlands in Peru is interested in developing a pilot research project in the country to determine the traceability of SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. This could eventually support the development of an early warning system and an effective strategy to combat the pandemic in Peru, one of the most affected countries in the world.

The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands has therefore contracted Deltares to scope and prepare this project in collaboration with KWR, the first to detect SARS-CoV-2 in wastewater. Together, they will assess the feasibility of a combined approach of monitoring, modelling and capacity building in Peru, supporting the future development of an early warning monitoring strategy for the city of Chiclayo. This city has been chosen because it is the largest economic, commercial and tourist centre on the northern coast of the country.

First phase of the project

In the first phase of the project, from December 2020 to June 2021, stakeholders will be identified, looking for the best partners for possible follow-up activities. In addition, during this phase, monitoring locations will be sought with local partners and a basic water quality model will be set up for wastewater, stormwater and drainage in Chiclayo.

The results of the first phase of the project will provide a first indication of the potential of early warning and yield additional insights into possible transmission routes of SARS-CoV-2 and other water-borne pathogens. This can guide the COVID-19 response in Chiclayo. By developing an early warning system, the monitoring of SARS-CoV-2 and other pathogens in wastewater would support targeted interventions in public health and water management, including preventive measures.

Looking for stakeholders

KWR and Deltares are still open to Peruvian stakeholders interested in joining this first phase. Stakeholders can include government departments, academic institutions, non-governmental organizations and businesses. Kindly get back to us if you have any suggestions or see a role for yourself, or your organization in this scoping project.

Deltares is a leading, not-for-profit, and internationally operating specialist consultancy and applied research institute in the field of water and subsurface.