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Your Covid-19 questions answered

Can I catch Covid-19 from drinking water?

08 December 2021 - 07:00
Experts say you won't catch Covid-19 from tap water.
Experts say you won't catch Covid-19 from tap water.
Image: Thapelo Morebudi/Sunday Times

The World Health Organisation (WHO) says there is little to no chance of contracting Covid-19 from drinking water.

The organisation said the virus has not been found in water supplies, and water treatment destroys the virus.

“The risk coronaviruses pose to drinking water is considered to be low and the Sars-CoV-2 virus has not been detected in drinking water supplies.

“Drinking water treatment methods neutralise infectious pathogens present in the water. Sars-CoV-2 is an enveloped virus, which means it has a fragile fatty envelope that is easily destroyed by the treatment process. Therefore, treated drinking water does not pose a risk for Covid-19.”

The WHO said wastewater testing can be used to monitor the presence of Covid-19 in untreated sewage and provide vital information about infection in an area.

“Several countries are monitoring wastewater for the Sars-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes Covid-19, in a range of locations for different purposes. These include: early warning for Covid-19 cases in a community; detection of Covid-19 in locations with weak clinical surveillance; monitoring circulation of the virus during outbreaks; or to trigger case-finding in locations where there are or may be suspected cases, such as quarantine hotels, university campuses or prisons.”

Polymerase chain reaction (PCR) tests can detect the presence of the Sars-CoV-2 virus in wastewater, which will show researchers the virus is likely in the community, but does not identify who is infected or if they are still contagious.

It is also important to note that while fragments of the virus may be present in wastewater, getting the virus from sewage is “highly unlikely”.


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