PREPRINT: Presence of SARS-Coronavirus-2 in sewage

In the current COVID-19 pandemic, a significant proportion of cases shed SARS-Coronavirus-2 (SARS-CoV-2) with their faeces. To determine if SARS-CoV-2 is present in sewage during the emergence of COVID-19 in the Netherlands, sewage samples of 7 cities and the airport were tested using RT-PCR against three fragments of the nucleocapsid protein gene (N1-3) and one fragment of the envelope protein gene (E). No SARS-CoV-2 was detected in samples of February 6, three weeks before the first case was reported in the Netherlands on February 27. On March 5, the N1 fragment was detected in sewage of five sites. On March 15/16, the N1 fragment was detected in sewage of six sites, and the N3 and E fragment were detected at 5 and 4 sites respectively. This is the first report of detection of SARS-CoV-2 in sewage. The detection of the virus in sewage, even when the COVID-19 incidence is low, indicates that sewage surveillance could be a sensitive tool to monitor the circulation of the virus in the population.

Competing Interest Statement
The authors have declared no competing interest.

Funding Statement
The research was funded entirely by KWR Water Research Institute, no external funds were received.

Author Declarations
All relevant ethical guidelines have been followed; any necessary IRB and/or ethics committee approvals have been obtained and details of the IRB/oversight body are included in the manuscript.


All necessary patient/participant consent has been obtained and the appropriate institutional forms have been archived.


I understand that all clinical trials and any other prospective interventional studies must be registered with an ICMJE-approved registry, such as I confirm that any such study reported in the manuscript has been registered and the trial registration ID is provided (note: if posting a prospective study registered retrospectively, please provide a statement in the trial ID field explaining why the study was not registered in advance).


I have followed all appropriate research reporting guidelines and uploaded the relevant EQUATOR Network research reporting checklist(s) and other pertinent material as supplementary files, if applicable.

Writing about COVID-19

As well as building up a resource of information and analysis on COVID-19, we want to ensure that we pass on any tips about what can go wrong when writing about this subject: and how to get it right! If you have experience in writing about this area and feel you have advice that would help others, please contact us at:

We’d also like to hear from you at that address if you would like to regularly contribute links to the site. If you just want to suggest links on an occasional basis, please send them to: