UTM is able to test the presence of COVID-19 fragments in the sewage system and receiving streams using next generation sequencing methods. Source of picture : https://www.bharian.com.my/berita/nasional/2020/03/666122/kronologi-covid-19-di-malaysia

KUALA LUMPUR, 26 MAR. —  Universiti Teknologi Malaysia (UTM) will engage multi-disciplinary collaborations with Delft University of Technology,  Netherlands and the Ministry of Environment Malaysia to enhance scientific tools required to combat the rapid spread of the virus in the country, Covid-19.

Malaysia and the world are facing unprecedented times with the emergence of novel SARS-CoV-2, the cause for COVID-19 as in the meantime, various questions are being asked over whether COVID-19 can be transferred via wastewater.

Thus, UTM wastewater experts are closely following the recent findings of novel coronavirus in wastewater, according to the Rijksinstituut voor Volksgezondheid en Milieu (RIVM) which is based in Holland.

Amidst the coronavirus global pandemic scare, it is uncertain whether the virus can survive and infect after many hours following regular discharge of both treated and untreated sewage into receiving water bodies.

World Health Organization (WHO) suggests sewage treatments are optimized to remove viruses.

The virus detected in stool samples following diagnosis of patients experiencing diarrhea in the early stages of COVID-19 have triggered numerous tests and preliminary investigations.

UTM Vice Chancellor, Prof Datuk Ir Dr Wahid Omar said, UTM offers the expertise to investigate this matter further.

“We are proud of the great community spirit that shines daily across the University, as staff and students help each other during this difficult time.

Wastewater scientists from Metabolic Engineering and Molecular Biology (MEMO-Bio) and Nest-Bio Venture Laboratory at Malaysia-Japan International Institute of Technology (MJIIT) and Virus Research Laboratory, Faculty of Science are signing up to help screening for COVID-19 in wastewater,” he said.

According to Prof Wahid, UTM is able to test the presence of COVID-19 fragments in the sewage system and receiving streams using next generation sequencing methods.

He added, the experts aim to extend the experimental process without culturing to analyze the possibility of intact full genome if it could withstand sewage treatment processes.