Maroochydore residents have been urged to get tested for coronavirus if they have any symptoms after fragments of the virus were detected in waste water. Photo: John McCutcheon
Maroochydore residents have been urged to get tested for coronavirus if they have any symptoms after fragments of the virus were detected in waste water. Photo: John McCutcheon

‘Still out there’: Fears of undetected cases rise

A leading health expert says fragments of coronavirus being found in Maroochydore sewage is a sign that people could be out there unknowingly carrying the virus.

Dr Ian Norton, a specialist emergency physician for the World Health Organisation, said it was no time to panic but important that the public remembered they aren't immune to the virus.

It came as residents with symptoms in Maroochydore, as well as Wynnum and Townsville residents, were being urged to get tested for the virus after fragments were detected in sewage on Saturday morning.

Dr Norton said the finding was proof "we aren't out of the woods yet".

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"What it means is that someone will have used the sewage system and has shed the virus. They're usually not infectious or are asymptomatic," Dr Norton said.

"Even days, weeks after COVID, there can still be traces of the virus or just little pieces of it being shed into the waste system.

"It might have been someone who didn't realise they were sick, who came into quarantine legally and was out and about.

"It's really important to remember that we aren't immune and that people could be still out among us with the virus."

Health Minister Steven Miles and chief health officer Jeannette Young on Saturday morning urged people to get tested, as it was critical to detect any community cases as soon as possible.

"What we're asking people in those areas to do … is if they have any symptoms whatsoever, please do go and get tested," Mr Miles said.

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It has been more than one month since the Sunshine Coast last had a positive case of coronavirus - a young woman who was an overseas traveller.

However Dr Norton said the detection of the virus should be a reminder.

"Don't panic, the tracing system is strong but it does mean that there likely to be people out there with COVID," he said.

"If you're sick, tell your mates. We need to keep a high level of testing, it's our best defence.

"It's really important the testing continues and be remain super vigilant."

Dr Young urged residents in the three areas where positive sewerage results had been found to come forward and get tested if they had any symptoms.

She said it had been more than a month since the state had an infectious case in the community, but there could be a new infection "any day".


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