Tests are being carried out at sewage plants across England as the government tries to get a “head start” on where new coronavirus outbreaks may happen.
During the trials, experts at 44 treatment works will be analysing samples of wastewater for fragments of the disease.
Tests can detect the genetic residues of Sars-Cov-2, the virus that causes COVID-19.
The residues could be used to discover the presence of the virus in the population, including among those who do not have symptoms or before they develop them.
People infected with coronavirus are believed to shed it in their faeces.
The World Health Organisation has said there is no evidence that COVID-19 has been transmitted through sewerage systems, but scientists believe nationwide monitoring of them could be a good way to identify future hotspots.
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