RIVM: Coronavirus detected in sewage water

RIVM: Coronavirus detected in sewage water

Coronavirus has been detected in sewage water in Tilburg and Amsterdam, and in a sewage treatment plant in Loon op Zand, according to research from National Institute for Public Health and Environment (RIVM). How did the virus get into the sewerage? Via the faeces of patients with coronavirus. 

A warning to wastewater workers

The RIVM warns those working with wastewater to avoid coming into direct contact with it and not to breathe in or swallow any of its spray. These workers should wear personal protective equipment suited to their tasks. According to RIVM, the workers are not at risk if they wear protective clothing and stick to the hygiene rules. 

Testing the waters

On February 17, RIVM tested wastewater at Schiphol. In the first two weeks, coronavirus was not detected in the samples. However, it was detected in the wastewater samples from March 2, 9 and 16. This was four days after the first person tested positive for coronavirus in the Netherlands on February 27. 

On March 3, 7 and 10, wastewater was tested in Tilburg and genetic material from the virus was found. On March 3 and 18, wastewater was tested at a sewage treatment plant in Kaatsheuvel, which treats wastewater from Loon op Zand (where the first reported coronavirus patient lives), amongst other places. In the March 3 sample, coronavirus was not detected, however, genetic material from the virus did show up in the sample taken on March 18. 

Mina Solanki


Mina Solanki

Completed her Master's degree at the University of Groningen and worked as a translator before joining IamExpat. She loves to read and has a particular interest in Greek mythology. In...

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kelly schoonderwoerd 14:26 | 2 April 2020

Mina, did you find any information as to if the municipal water treatment method removes the virus? What steps are taken to remove the virus during treatment, before the water comes back out of our taps?