Wastewater-based surveillance was conducted by the national public health authority to monitor SARS-CoV-2 circulation in the Belgian population. Over 5 million inhabitants representing 45% of the Belgian population were monitored throughout 42 wastewater treatment plants for 15 months comprising three major virus waves. During the entire period, a high correlation was observed between the daily new COVID-19 cases and the SARS-CoV-2 concentration in wastewater corrected for rain impact and covered population size. Three alerting indicators were included in the weekly epidemiological assessment: High Circulation, Fast Increase, and Increasing Trend. These indicators were computed on normalized concentrations per individual treatment plant to allow for a comparison with a reference period as well as between analyses performed by distinct laboratories. When the indicators were not corrected for rain impact, rainy events caused an underestimation of the indicators. Despite this negative impact, the indicators permitted us to effectively monitor the evolution of the fourth virus wave and were considered complementary and valuable information to conventional epidemiological indicators in the weekly wastewater reports communicated to the National Risk Assessment Group.
- alerting indicator
- public health authority
- viral load per capita
- viral to faecal ratio
- wastewater-based epidemiology