Sewage surveillance of SARS-CoV-2 at student campus residences in the Western Cape, South Africa

Noluxabiso Mangwana, Edward Archer, Christo J. F. Muller, Wolfgang Preiser, Gideon Wolfaardt, Barbara Kasprzyk-Hordern, Alno Carstens, Ludwig Brocker, Candice Webster, David McCarthy, Renee Street, Angela Mathee, Johan Louw, Mongezi Mdhluli, Rabia Johnson

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

7 Citations (SciVal)


The current severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2) diagnostic capacity is limited in defined communities, posing a challenge in tracking and tracing new infections. Monitoring student residences, which are considered infection hotspots, with targeted wastewater surveillance is crucial. This study evaluated the efficacy of SARS-CoV-2 targeted wastewater surveillance for outbreak mitigation at Stellenbosch University's student residences in South Africa. Using torpedo-style passive sampling devices, wastewater samples were collected biweekly from manholes at twelve Stellenbosch University Tygerberg (SUT) campus and Stellenbosch University-Main (SUM) campus student residences. The surveillance led to an early warning detection of SARS-CoV-2 presence on campus, followed by an informed management strategy leading to restriction of student activities on campus and a delay in the onset of the third wave that was experienced throughout the country. Moreover, the study highlighted the extent of possible infections at defined locations even when a low number of confirmed coronavirus disease 2019 (COVID-19) cases were reported. The study also tracked the surge of the Delta and Omicron variants in the student residences using the Thermo Fisher TaqMan® RT-qPCR genotyping assay.

Original languageEnglish
Article number158028
JournalScience of the Total Environment
Issue numberPart 1
Early online date13 Aug 2022
Publication statusPublished - 10 Dec 2022


  • COVID-19
  • Institution
  • Near-source WBE
  • Passive sampling
  • SARS-CoV-2
  • Student campus residences
  • Wastewater
  • Wastewater-based epidemiology

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Environmental Engineering
  • Environmental Chemistry
  • Waste Management and Disposal
  • Pollution


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