Waste data point to mass exodus over holidays

Waste data point to mass exodus over holidays

Chemists studying the spread of the coronavirus through analysis of human waste from the public sewage system have come to an unanticipated conclusion: About half a million Athenians left the area of the Greek capital over the holidays, with a lockdown in effect.

“We observed a decline in the use of the sewage system… from an average of 3.7 million users earlier in December to 3.2 million over a 10-day period [December 21-30] during the holidays,” said Nikos Thomaidis, professor of analytical chemistry at Athens University.

Professor Thomaidis’ team started analyzing waste samples from the Wastewater Treatment Plant on the islet of Psyttalia in March, and since early September has been conducting tests daily.

Analysis of the viral content of the waste is a good predictor of whether infections will spike or decline in coming days and provides a more accurate picture of the real spread of the infection.

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