This report summarises and interprets findings from detection and quantification of SARS-CoV-2 levels by the NICD Centre for Vaccines and Immunology in influent (untreated) wastewater in 18 wastewater treatment plants (WWTP) across five provinces tested by the NICD, and 24 additional plants tested by SACCESS partners including the National Institute for Occupational Health, Lumegen Laboratories, Green Hill Laboratories and Precaution to cover all provinces.

This report is based on data collected from June 2021 up to 3 May 2022 (week 18 of 2022).

Key highlights

  • SARS-CoV-2 levels in wastewater: The levels of SARS-CoV-2 in our wastewater treatment plants have mostly remained at high levels for several weeks ranging from 4 weeks up to 7 weeks, with corresponding increases in clinical cases. These plants are situated in the following areas:
  • Gauteng: Tshwane South (Daspoort WWTP) and Tshwane North (Rooiwal WWTP); City of Johannesburg (Goudkoppies and Northern WWTPs) Ekurhuleni South (Vlakplaats) and North (Hartebeesfontein WWTP)
  • KwaZulu-Natal: eThekwini municipality (central WWTP)
  • Free State: Mangaung in Bloemfontein (Sterkwater and Bloemspruit WWTPs)
  • Eastern Cape province: In Buffalo City Metro, Eastern Cape province (East Bank and Mdantsane WWTPs)
  • We have just launched our dashboard that enables the public to view SARS-CoV-2 levels from our wastewater treatment facilities across all the provinces. To view the dashboard click here https://wastewater.nicd.ac.za/
  • SARS-CoV-2 genomics in wastewater: Sequencing data available up to week 15 show the presence of Omicron variant in all recent samples across South Africa with evidence of the new Omicron sub-variant BA.4 present in Gauteng, eThekwini and the Free State. Whilst some mutations associated with the Delta variant were also present, the significance of these remains unclear.

Wastewater-based epidemiology for SARS-CoV-2 surveillance in South Africa (week 18 2022)

Learn more about The Water Research Commission (WRC) here 

Wastewater surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 RNA is being undertaken by the South African medical research council (SA-MRC) at additional sites. Click here to view the results https://www.samrc.ac.za/wbe/