Queensland Health uses wastewater surveillance to monitor SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
When there was either no or very low COVID-19 transmission in Queensland, wastewater surveillance was primarily used as a tool to detect the presence of COVID-19 in a geographic area.
Results were useful to guide the public health response. For example, if wastewater samples in a certain geographic area were positive for COVID-19, but there were no known community cases, Queensland Health was able to focus on increasing testing in that area to try to identify, and then contact trace, the positive cases.
When there was continuous COVID-19 transmission in Queensland, wastewater surveillance was used to measure the overall incidence of COVID-19 in a community.
Wastewater surveillance data from these periods can be accessed on the Queensland Open Data portal.
In January 2023, wastewater surveillance was adjusted with a focus on detecting new variants of COVID-19 entering Queensland. Currently, sampling is taking place regularly in Brisbane, on the Gold Coast and on the Sunshine Coast.
Results from January 2023 are not currently available because the methods used by the Queensland Health genomics laboratory to determine variants of COVID-19 in wastewater are undergoing development and improvement.