Nfld. & Labrador

COVID-19 detected in wastewater samples in Deer Lake, says Health Department

The Department of Health is advising symptomatic residents of Deer Lake to get tested for COVID-19 after detecting the virus during wastewater testing.

Residents advised to get tested

Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Health says it has detected COVID-19 in wastewater samples in Deer Lake. (Jae C. Hong/The Associated Press)

Newfoundland and Labrador's Department of Health is advising residents of Deer Lake who have any COVID-19 symptoms to get tested for the disease, after it was detected during wastewater testing.

While the result is not a cause for alarm, said the department in a media release Tuesday, it indicates the coronavirus is in the area. 

According to the Health Department, collecting wastewater samples helps serve as an "early warning system" for detecting the virus in a community.

The wastewater-testing program in the Newfoundland and Labrador has been using regular surveillance for COVID-19 since Feb. 15, said the department.

"This form of surveillance has been found to uncover trends of COVID-19 in the community four to 10 days earlier than clinical data would by detecting the presence of the virus in asymptomatic and pre-symptomatic populations," reads the release.

According to the department, 216 wastewater samples have been collected from St. John's, Paradise, Conception Bay South, Gander, Torbay, Happy Valley-Goose Bay, Clarenville, Deer Lake, Corner Brook, Stephenville, Labrador City and Wabush to date.

Of those samples, four have tested positive for COVID-19.

The samples are analyzed by the Public Health Agency of Canada's National Microbiology Laboratory in Winnipeg at no cost to the province. 

Further, public health is also advising travellers who came through the Deer Lake airport between Nov. 19 and Nov. 22 to arrange for testing, if they are symptomatic.

Chief Medical Officer of Health Dr. Janice Fitzgerald is scheduled to hold a media briefing on Wednesday at 2 p.m. NT to deliver the province's latest COVID-19 update.

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