You too might be able to save lives just by staying regular!

The fight against COVID-19 continues as global infections continue to mount. Even with strong social measures such as lockdowns, closed borders, and free anime, its scourge continues to spread. One of the reasons for this is its ability to asymptomatically infect certain individuals, allowing them to go about their lives without being diagnosed and unknowingly transmitting the virus to others.

But now, Toyama Prefectural University may have found a pair of powerful weapons that could very well turn the tables and save countless lives: pee and poo.

On 16 June, researchers at the school announced that they have successfully identified traces of the novel coronavirus from the gallons of human fecal matter and urine which course through a city’s sewers like its lifeblood. This gives them a smelly but accurate window into the COVID-19 situation of a given area.

▼ Right this way to our testing facility…

The researchers are simply conducting regular PCR tests, only instead of directly from human sinuses, samples are extracted from large pools of excrement at sewage treatment facilities to determine if COVID-19 is present.

The university also believes that the amount of COVID-19 found in the waste is also indicative of the number of infected persons in a given area by comparing their test results with the number of reported cases in each area. In one instance, they were even able to find the virus before any cases were reported.

This makes this method potentially far more effective than individual PCR tests both in simplicity and the fact that asymptomatic carriers are automatically included in the sample groups, provided they’re getting enough fluids and fiber.

▼ And provided they remember to flush, for all our sakes

The experiment was conducted at three treatment plants in Ishikawa Prefecture and one in Toyama Prefecture from 5 March to 24 April, but now over 20 municipalities in Japan have begun examining their sewage.

If widespread use proves effective, it could be a major tool in containing the spread of COVID-19 and stopping potential second waves before they happen. Readers of the news, however, largely seemed to overlook that.

“So this means I shouldn’t drink sewage?”
“That’s why you should always wash your hands after using the toilet.”
“I wonder if hospitals are making sure their toilets are sterile.”
“This means that a rat could spread the virus too?”
“Good, then they can just test my poop instead of sticking that thing up my nose.”
“I hope this doesn’t lead to scams like ‘anti-COVID’ water filters.”
“It’s just like what happened in Resident Evil 2 then.”
“Tokyo Bay smells like poo. They should test that too.”
“This is amazing. They can use if to give warnings on a regional basis!”

At least one person got it. With this method it would be theoretically possible to identify the presence of COVID-19 in a community even if no one is experiencing symptoms at the time. It would than be up to that particular government to decide the next move, whether it’s a precision lockdown or testing, but either way they’ll have a crucial head-start on the problem.

Hopefully this method will prove more successful and become more widely adopted. Then, we can all help save lives just by doing what comes natural. Isn’t that right Mr. Sato?

That’s the spirit!

Source: Nikkei Shimbun, My Game News Flash
Photos ©SoraNews24
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