Denmark finds omicron in sewage water

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Omicron found in Danish waste water. (Photo: Water News Europe)

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The Danish Serum Institute (SSI) has detected the new omicron variant in wastewater samples from a treatment plant on the Island Funen. A further 14 samples from wastewater treatment plants (WWTPs) across the country are currently being tested for the omicron variant. According to the Director General of the Danish Health Authority Soren Brostrom it is no longer proportional to use extra resources to eliminate the omicron variant of the virus.

The Danish Serum Institute (SSI) confirms that the omicron variant has so far been found in a sample from the Søndersø sewage treatment plant on Funen. A further 14 samples are currently being tested at SSI after initially testing positive for one of the mutations typical of the omicron variant.

All wastewater samples to be screened for omicron

As a new feature, all wastewater samples will now be screened for the new omicron variant. This must be done no later than the day after they have been taken. As part of the set-up for this screening, the wastewater samples from week 48 have been tested with the new method. Three samples were found to be positive for the mutation being screened for. The three samples were then tested at the National Serum Institute (SSI). There, the omicron variant was detected in samples from the Funen sewage treatment plant. This is in line with the fact that the omicron variant has also been found in PCR samples from people living in the catchment area of the Søndersø sewage treatment plant.

14 more samples with possible omicron

In addition to the three samples from the weekend, Eurofin, the company responsible for the initial screening of the wastewater samples, has tested a further 14 samples positive for the omicron-related mutation. The samples come from wastewater treatment plants across the country. These samples have also been forwarded to the SSI, which is currently working to rule out or confirm the omicron variant.

Wastewater findings are worrying

At SSI, CEO Henrik Ullum says the finding of omicron signals in wastewater is worrying. “I think it is particularly worrying that we are now seeing the omicron variant so widespread despite the fact that we have man-covered the spread of infection right from the start. It confirms the increasing number of omicron PCR positives we have seen in all parts of the country since it was first found in Denmark just over a week ago. We are reviewing the data with the National Board for Patient Safety to see if there are any missed outbreaks. The overall impression is that omicron is spreading rapidly right now,” says Henrik Ullum.

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