The news that traces of coronaviruses have been found in Paris in the non-potable water network and in Milan and Rome in wastewater has created some concern. What does this mean? Is there a risk of contagion through water? We immediately anticipate that the answer is no, but let's see what science and experts say.
Coronavirus, the finding in wastewater
Fragments of viral RNA from coronavirus have been found in the wastewater of cities such as Rome and Milan, according to a research performed by the Environment and Health Department of the Italian National Institute of Health and that will soon be published. However, as pointed out by the experts of the Italian National Institute of Health, finding a viral fragment does not mean finding the active virus. In fact, the intact particle with its protective layer of proteins was not found. This also applies to other viruses and bacteria, not just to novel coronavirus. Not only that, finding traces of viruses in wastewater is not only possible but is also to be expected given the spread of the epidemic. What the experts say, and it is also the main reason that led the Italian National Institute of Health to perform the research, is that this finding is important more than anything else in order to estimate the presence of any outbreak and, in case, limit it promptly.
Coronavirus, what about drinking water?
As stated by a study (Naddeo et al, Environmental Science: Water Research & Technology, 2020) and by a research performed by the same Italian National Institute of Health, the cycle to which water is subjected to become drinkable, guarantees the suppression of any presence of the virus. The same effect is also guaranteed by the wastewater treatment plants and this applies to both the novel coronavirus and other pathogens. Therefore, the water that reaches home does not represent a health risk.