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Hawaii wastewater testing program shows decline in Covid-19

By KITV Staff

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    HONOLULU (KITV) — Wastewater testing data in Hawaii has shown a decline in COVID-19 cases since June 2022 and that the Omicron BA.5 subvariant is still the dominant strain in the state, according to the Hawaii Department of Health (DOH).

Hawaii is part of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) wastewater surveillance program, which monitors sewage for the coronavirus. The state has 15 facilities collecting samples as part of the CDC program.

“Data from wastewater testing aligns with other data sets,” State Laboratories Division Administrator Edward Desmond said in a press release. “Results from COVID-19 tests taken by individuals show case counts have dropped since June. This is consistent with data in the Wastewater Report which shows concentrations of SARS-CoV-2 have declined since June.”

Hawaii expanded its wastewater surveillance program in August, purchasing the equipment to analyze its own samples in the islands, without the delay in sending the samples back to a mainland laboratory.

The Wastewater Report provides a summary of surveillance done as part of the National Wastewater Surveillance System (NWSS). The samples collected at the state’s wastewater facilities are analyzed by Biobot Analytics as part of the NWSS.

Biobot Analytics now provides test results about a week after samples are collected. And the program doesn’t cost the state a dime.

“The State Laboratories Division continues to develop its own COVID-19 wastewater surveillance capabilities. Our staff is performing longitudinal validation of our own protocols by comparing results of our wastewater analysis with results of Biobot’s analysis. The fast, cost-free analysis provided by Biobot gives us desired information and affords our staff time to work toward wastewater testing for other pathogens,” Desmond said.

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