Australia to assist South East Asia with early warning COVID-19 surveillance

Wastewater treatment plant (credit: navintar/Adobe Stock)

The Australian water sector is set to help five South-East Asian nations develop an early warning surveillance system to track COVID-19 prevalence in wastewater, with the support of the Australian Water Partnership through its Australia-Mekong Water Facility Grant.

The Australian Water Association and Water Research Australia have partnered to transfer leading Australian innovation in the environmental surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 to support the Governments of Vietnam, Cambodia, Laos, Myanmar, and Thailand to prepare, respond and recover from the COVID-19 pandemic.

The Minister for Foreign Affairs the Hon Marise Payne announced the project as part of a broader program in the region under the Australian Government’s Partnerships for Recovery — Australia’s COVID-19 Development Response.

“A new $60 million package of initiatives will support the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) under the Partnerships for Recovery program,” said Minister Payne.

“On health security, we will embark on a new partnership to help the Mekong sub-region enhance early detection of COVID-19 using Australian technology to monitor wastewater”

AWP’s CEO Professor Nick Schofield welcomed the announcement by the Foreign Minister showcasing one of AWP’s rapid and innovative responses to the impacts of COVID-19 across the Indo-Pacific.

The AWA’s Chief Executive Corinne Cheeseman also welcomed this opportunity to promote some of Australia’s leading researchers and practitioners in water and human health and to support our northern neighbours.

“This is a great opportunity for the Australian water sector and South-East Asian nations to connect and share innovation that will support over 250 million people across the Mekong as they respond and recover from COVID-19.”

Water Research Australia Chief Executive Karen Rouse has expressed delight that the robust environmental surveillance methods developed through the Collaboration on Sewage Surveillance for SARS-CoV-2 (ColoSSoS) project in Australia will be used to support others in the region.

“We are optimistic that this program will make a significant contribution towards Mekong countries achieving early warning detection of outbreaks, timely control measures and a more rapid return to normality.”

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