TRACES of Covid-19 have been found in sewage tested in Dunfermline.

Scientists from the Scottish Environment Protection Agency (SEPA) have been carrying out testing and monitoring to help support the response to the pandemic.

The results show positive testing at the West Fife waste water treatment works in all of its samples in the last few weeks with the last negative result coming back on September 7.

SEPA began the exploratory work in May with the aim of detecting fragments of the virus’ RNA – a genetic footprint which can be measured in waste water even after the virus has begun to breakdown.

The samples are representative of waste water from 40-50 percent of the Scottish population and, with community testing, is helping understand the prevalence and distribution of the virus.

Despite the positive findings, the World Health Organization has said there is currently no evidence that coronavirus has been transmitted via sewerage systems.

SEPA CEO, Terry A’Hearn, said: “Our scientific capabilities and expertise in designing and implementing monitoring networks made us ideally suited to delivering this trial and the results we are seeing demonstrate its scientific validity.

“Central to the delivery of this project has been our partnership working with Scottish Water and the University of Edinburgh’s Roslin Institute, and we will continue to work closely together to refine our techniques and understanding.

“We’ve received support from across the public sector, agencies and institutions – including a donation of specialist kit from Science and Advice for Scottish Agriculture – demonstrating how Scotland is coming together to find ways of tackling this virus.”

SEPA is also assisting UK government scientific advisors, who are engaging with the research community to investigate how waste water monitoring can be used to track the transmission of coronavirus.

Environment Secretary Roseanna Cunningham added: “In order to manage the coronavirus pandemic, it is vital that we continue to develop our understanding of it, and I welcome this UK-wide programme of research and the development of waste water monitoring to help build our knowledge base.

“SEPA and Scottish Water have translated this experimental programme into a comprehensive, Scotland-wide monitoring network. The early data is already providing public health experts with new information, which complements the wider population testing programme to give a more robust picture of the prevalence of Covid disease in Scotland.

“I look forward to the programme providing further, valuable data over the coming months to support our fight against the pandemic.”