Misplaced alarm over COVID-19 fragments detected at Warriewood sewage treatment plant is based on an inaccurate report.

A media release from NSW Health yesterday (Saturday, 24 July) stated that COVID-19 virus fragments had been detected in sewage testing from the Warriewood sewage treatment plant. This is correct.

The media release also stated that there were no known COVID cases in the Warriewood sewage catchment area. This is incorrect. The media release also listed the suburbs of the catchment, which includes Belrose, an area with known active cases.

A number of media reports subsequently repeated the inaccurate statement, reporting the Northern Beaches ‘on high alert’ following sewage detection.

The Northern Beaches Advocate published information about the sewage detection, but did not include the statement about cases in the catchment, seeking clarification from NSW Health.

A NSW Health spokesperson subsequently confirmed to the Northern Beaches Advocate there were known cases in the Warriewood sewage catchment area. They had mistakenly included the statement of no known cases in the media release, leading to the confusion. They apologised for the error, said it was inadvertent and they would ensure it was corrected.

The Northern Beaches Advocate reported yesterday a total of nine active cases of COVID-19 across the Northern Beaches, with seven in postcode 2085 (Belrose/Davidson). Belrose is in the catchment area for the Warriewood sewage treatment plant.

During the NSW Health press conference today (Sunday, 25 July) Deputy Chief Health Officer Dr Jeremy McAnulty confirmed areas of positive sewage detection included “Belrose where we have had transmission”.

Image: NSW Health